Its failure, and the humiliating public debacle that ensued, damaged US prestige worldwide. Carter himself blamed his loss in the 1980 US presidential election mainly on his failure to win the release of U. S. hostages held captive in Iran, the operation encountered many obstacles and was eventually aborted. Eight helicopters were sent to the first staging area, Desert One, 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, in a move that is still discussed in military circles, the field commanders advised mission abort, which President Carter accepted and confirmed. As the U. S. force prepared to leave, one of the helicopters crashed into an 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 Forces first missions. The Joint Task Force commander was Army Major General James B, Vaught, to be forward based at Wadi Kena, Egypt, and reporting directly to the President. Reporting to General Vaught were field commanders USAF Colonel James H. Kyle for aviation, the Tehran CIA Special Activities Division paramilitary team, led by retired U. S. Army Special Forces officer Richard J. In reality, the most important information came from an embassy cook released by the Iranians, at that time, the floor was hard-packed sand, but in the ensuing three weeks, an ankle-deep layer of powdery sand was deposited by sandstorms. The box four and one pattern acted like a gun sight, the box provided a touchdown area and the far light marked the end of the rollout area. The operation was designed as a complex two-night mission, on the first night, the aircraft would enter Iran in a remote coastal area 60 miles west of Chabahar, and fly to Desert One via the Dasht-e Lut desert. Three EC-130Es would carry the Delta Force and other protection elements, next, eight United States Navy RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters from HELMINERON16 would arrive from the USS Nimitz. The crew of the Nimitz were unaware of the reason for the eight helicopters presence on their ship for months leading up to the mission, the helicopters would refuel and fly the Delta Force soldiers 260 miles further to Desert Two, located 52 miles short of Tehran. Because it would be close to morning, the helicopters and ground forces would hide during the day at Desert Two, the second night would involve the rescue operation. First, CIA agents who were already inside Iran would bring trucks to Desert Two, together, the CIA agents and ground forces would then drive from Desert Two into Tehran. While the main force was moving to Tehran, other US troops would disable electrical power to the area. In addition, AC-130 gunships would be deployed over Tehran to provide any necessary supporting fire, lastly, Army Rangers would capture the nearby Manzariyeh Air Base so that several C-141 Starlifters could arrive. The ground troops would assault the embassy and eliminate the guards
Image: Eagle Claw wrecks at Desert One April 1980
US burned helicopter
Iranian memorial to the operation in the Tabas desert.