January 20, 1981 : Iran Hostage Crisis ends

The Shah of Iran
Photo Credit: Mr.

Minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th president of the United States, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran, were released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis.

On November 4, 1979, the crisis began when militant Iranian students, outraged that the U.S. government had allowed the ousted Shah of Iran to travel to New York City for medical treatment, seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran. The Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s political and religious leader, took over the hostage situation, refusing all appeals to release the hostages.  However, two weeks after the storming of the embassy, the Ayatollah began to release all non-U.S. captives, and all female and minority Americans, citing these groups as among the people oppressed by the government of the United States. The remaining 52 captives remained at the mercy of the Ayatollah for the next 14 months.

President Jimmy Carter was unable to diplomatically resolve the crisis, and on April 24, 1980, he ordered a disastrous rescue mission in which eight U.S. military personnel were killed and no hostages rescued. Three months later, the former shah died of cancer in Egypt, but the crisis continued. In November 1980, Carter lost the presidential election to Republican Ronald Reagan. Soon after, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations began between the United States and Iran. On the day of Reagan’s inauguration, the United States freed almost $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets, and the hostages were released after 444 days. The next day, Jimmy Carter flew to West Germany to greet the Americans on their way home.


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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  1. Steve says:

    I attened the 10th anniversary of the crsis, I served a small roll in the Gulf. I would like to know if a 30 year reunion, or meet one of the ex-hostage’s.
    God bless American, steve

  2. Doc says:

    The last couple of months I have been talking to my minister, one of the things that came up was the horrifying images of the men killed in the Iran rescue operation. These pictures surfaced while Serving on Gonzo station, while the 53 American hostages were still being held.
    With the elections in Iran, I just ask the question, where is former president Carter when Iran needs him? But I have to say one of the Marines that was killed was from a local town, I found his grave once before, in Salem Virginia now I can’t find it because my dam leg would not allow it.
    I would just like to tell him, thanks for your sacrifice it’s been over 30 years , were looking at a “model of a revolution in Iran”. I meet your mom and dad, and daughter she is a beautiful young lady. Your sacrifice as well as the other services members will not be forgotten, especially this month 6-2009.
    Still like to corspond with any of the hostages, or members of operation Eagle Claw.

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