444 days of the Iranian Hostage Crisis
and the Aftermath

updated 12/03/2011

PBS: American Experience, Jimmy Carter 

The Hostage Rescue Attempt In Iran, April 24-25, 1980

NETWORK NOTE: This page is NOT intended to be an all inclusive historical overview of the captivity of the hostages. For now, it is a place to give recognition where it is due. The above links have much more history and many more facts than we will relay for our purposes.

We'd like to thank David M. Roeder, who at the time was a 41 yr old Lt. Col. from Alexandria, VA. He was Deputy Air Force attaché at the Embassy when it was overrun. He has spent years making sure "his" embassy guards and personnel received appropriate recognition. In this time of frauds, phonies and wannabees, he asked that we note the January 2001 recognition so they are NEVER labeled as anything but legitimate. For NOW, only the Marines have been awarded the POW medal.

The criteria for the P.O.W. medal requires NO declaration of war and only that you be held by "an opposing foreign force."

Receipt of POW Medals delayed for 32 years

Lost paper work causes 8-year delay of medals for six airmen held hostage by Iran in 1979
By David Larter - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Dec 3, 2011 8:54:48 EST

They’ve been waiting 32 years for this and it wasn’t easy.

It took advocates, Congress, the secretary of the Air Force, an Army major and military historian, and a determined civilian employee at the Air Force Personnel Center to get Prisoner of War Medals to six airmen who were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979.

Lt. Col. David Roeder, Lt. Col. Thomas Schaefer, Capt. Paul Needham and Staff Sgt. James Hughes spent 444 days in captivity, and Capt. Neal “Terry” Robinson and Master Sgt. Joseph Vincent were released after 16 days..........

The Short History:

The Iran Hostage Crisis was precipitated by the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by militant students on 4 November 1979. The students took hostage 66 U.S. Embassy employees, including the Marine Security Guard Detachment, and demanded the return of the Shah of Iran (Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi) who had fled the country and sought safety in the United States. The religious and political leader of revolutionary Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, who had taken power in February 1979 after the overthrow of the Shah, warmly supported the students. 

Six American diplomats avoided capture when the embassy was seized. For three months they were sheltered at the Canadian and Swedish embassies in Tehran. On Jan. 28, 1980, they fled Iran using Canadian passports.

On 14 November 1979, President Jimmy Carter ordered frozen all Iranian assets in U.S. banks.

 The release on 19 and 20 November of 13 hostages who were either black or female did little to alleviate the crisis. Although the Shah had left the United States for Panama in early December, the militants refused to release the remaining hostages which numbered 53.

An unsuccessful attempt on 24 April 1980 by U.S. special operations forces to rescue the hostages resulted in the deaths of eight U.S. servicemen during Desert One, Iran. Five more were injured when an RH-53 helicopter collided with a C-130 transport in a failed rescue attempt to free U.S. Embassy hostages in Tehran. The incident and aggravated the hostility between the two countries.

Eight U.S. servicemen from the all-volunteer Joint Special Operations Group were killed in the Great Salt Desert near Tabas, Iran, on April 25, 1980, in the aborted attempt to rescue the American hostages:

           Capt. Richard L. Bakke, 34, Long Beach, CA. Air Force.
           Sgt. John D. Harvey, 21, Roanoke, VA. Marine Corps.
           Cpl. George N. Holmes, Jr., 22, Pine Bluff, AR. Marine Corps.
           Staff Sgt. Dewey L. Johnson, 32, Jacksonville, NC. Marine Corps.
           Capt. Harold L. Lewis, 35, Mansfield, CT. Air Force.
           Tech. Sgt. Joel C. Mayo, 34, Bonifay, FL. Air Force.
           Capt. Lynn D. McIntosh, 33, Valdosta, GA. Air Force.
           Capt. Charles T. McMillan II, 28, Corrytown, TN. Air Force.

 The subsequent death of the Shah in July had no effect on the status of the hostages. In November, however, the Iranian revolutionary parliament set four conditions for their release; no U.S. interference in Iran; the unfreezing of Iranian assets inside and outside the United States; the cancellation of all trade sanctions against Iran; and the return of the Shah's property. Algeria was named as the mediator, and an agreement was signed in January 1981. 

On 20 January, 1981, minutes after the inauguration of the new U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Iranian militants released 52 American hostages
that had spent 444 days in captivity. Jimmy Carter went to West Germany to greet them as President Reagan's special envoy.
Sixty-six Americans were taken captive when Iranian militants seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, including three who were at the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Six more avoided capture (see above notes.) 

Of the 66 who were taken hostage, thirteen women and African-Americans were released on Nov. 19 and 20, 1979; one was released on July 11, 1980, because of an illness later diagnosed as multiple sclerosis and the remaining 52 were released on Jan. 20, 1981.

One survived, to be killed in an auto accident.
(these notes are used only to show a sampling of what the captives went through)

..... Kalp, who was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Dorchester, served in the Special Forces in Vietnam, earning two purple hearts. In 1975, he joined the CIA. Kalp, who died at the scene (of the auto accident) , earned two Purple Hearts serving in the special forces during the Vietnam War. In November 1979, while serving with the CIA, he was taken hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran....  
His Iranian captors suspected Kalp was a CIA agent so they treated him especially harshly. They beat him repeatedly and kept him in solitary confinement for 374 days. Kalp tried to escape three times and was punished severely when those attempts failed.

This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 4/8/2002. The story was written by Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff

.....  Kirtley.......
The first came on his initial day of captivity. He was blindfolded, bound at his wrists and marched in front of one of the 28-acre compounds brick buildings. He stood there as an angry crowd of Iranians jeered.


 http://content.fredericksburg.com/news/Local/Stafford/0114host.htm  written by PAMELA GOULD of the Free Lance-Star

Skeletons in the Closet

17 Years Ago This Week
By Sue Schuurman

 ... Hostages Reveal Iran Torture.

"The emancipated hostages told of beatings and other atrocities at the hands of the Iranian captors today as they telephoned their loved ones back home."

"One said ... he was told by Iranian interrogators ... that his mother had died. He didn't learn that she was still alive until the freed captives reached Germany this morning......

Source: The Albuquerque Tribune; Jan. 21, 1981

POW quiet about past, surprised by medal
AP 07/09/01

HOUSTON (AP) - Gunnery Sgt. David Walker didn't tell many people during much of his 20-year military career that he was a prisoner of war.

Walker was one of 66 hostages held by Iranians in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. But because of his quiet nature, friends were surprised when he was awarded a POW medal Friday at the U.S. Marine headquarters in Houston.......

Prisoner of War Medal Award Authority:



P.O.W. Bracelets were ALSO made for the Iranian held hostages. As with any others, we will gladly forward the bracelets and letters to the returnees. We CANNOT release their addresses.

SEAL the envelope containing the bracelet/letter. Stamp and address ONLY with the name. We will complete the address and forward.

Mail the sealed, stamped letter in another envelope to:

Box 68
Skidmore, MO 64487-0068