Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw (or Operation Evening Light) was an United States Armed Forces operation ordered by US President Jimmy Carter to attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 diplomats held captive at the embassy of the United States, Tehran on 24 April 1980. Its failure, and the humiliating public debacle that ensued, damaged US prestige worldwide. Carter and many experts concluded that the failure to free the hostages played a major role in Ronald Reagan's victory in the 1980 US presidential election.
The operation encountered many obstacles and was eventually aborted. Eight helicopters were sent to the first staging area, Desert One, but only five arrived in operational condition. One encountered hydraulic problems, another got caught in a cloud of very fine sand, and the last one showed signs of a cracked rotor blade. During planning it was decided that the mission would be aborted if fewer than six helicopters remained, despite only four being absolutely necessary. In a move that is still discussed in military circles, the commanders asked President Carter for permission to abort and Carter granted the request.
As the U.S. force prepared to leave, one of the helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft which contained both servicemen and jet fuel. The resulting fire destroyed both aircraft and killed eight servicemen. Operation Eagle Claw was one of Delta Force's first missions.