Tampa in Hillsborough County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
Operation Eagle Claw (April 24, 1980)
Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park
Operation Eagle Claw (or Operation Evening Light or Operation Rice Bowl) was an American operation ordered by U.S President Jimmy Carter to attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on April 24, 1980. Its failure, and the humiliating public debacle that ensued damaged American prestige worldwide and is believed by many, including Carter himself, to have played a major role in his defeat in the 1980 U.S. presidential election.
The plan called for a minimum of six helicopters, eight were sent in. Two of the aircraft couldn't navigate through a very fine sand cloud (a haboob) which caused one to crash land and the other to return to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68). Six aircraft reached initial rendezvous point Alert One, but one of them had damaged its hydraulic systems.
The spares were on one ot the two aircraft that had aborted. From the early planning stages, it had been determined that if fewer than six operational helicopters were available, then the mission would be automatically aborted, even though only four were absolutely necessary
As the U.S. forces began to leave Iran, one of the helicopters crashed into a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft containing fuel and a group of servicemen, the resulting fire destroyed the two aircraft involved and resulting in the remaining helicopters being left behind and the deaths of eight American servicemen. Operation Eagle Claw was one of Delta Force's first missions.
In the ensuing explosion and fire were five U.S.A.F. aircrew in the C-139 and three U.S.M.C. aircrew in the RH-53, with only the helicopter pilot and co-pilot (both badly burned) surviving. During the following frantic evacuation by the C-130s, the helicopter crews attempted to remove their classified mission documents and destroy the aircraft. The helicopter crews boarded the C-130s. Five RH-53 aircraft were left behind mostly intact, some damaged by shrapnel. The Iranians, gained at least four of them. The C-130s carried the remaining forces back to the intermediate airfield at Masirah Island, where two C-141 medical evacuation aircraft from the Night Two staging area in Wadi Abu Shihat, Egypt (referred to as Wadi Kena by the U.S. forces due to its location near Qena).
The lack of well-trained Army helicopter pilots who were capable of the low-level night flying needed for modern special operations missions prompted the creation of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SQAR) (Night Stalkers). In addition to the 160th SOAR's creation, the U.S. Defense Department now trains many military helicopter pilots in low-level penetration, aerial refueling and use of night vision goggles. H-17, H-53, H-60 and V-22 aircraft all include special operations capabilities and aerial refueling.
Erected by Hillsborough County.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • Military. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #39 James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. series list. A significant historical date for this entry is April 24, 1980.
Location. 27° 58.649′ N, 82° 21.677′ W. Marker is in Tampa, Florida, in Hillsborough County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 301, 0.2 miles south of East Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, on the right when traveling south. Marker stands within Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3602 N US Highway 301, Tampa FL 33619, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Operation Frequent Wind (here, next to this marker); Gulf of Sidra incident (1981) (here, next to this marker); America’s Secret War. The Salvadoran Civil War (here, next to this marker); Operation Odyssey Dawn (here, next to this marker); Operation Praying Mantis (here, next to this marker); Invasion of Grenada 1983 (here, next to this marker); Cambodian Campaign during mid-1970 (here, next to this marker); United States Invasion of Panama (1991) (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tampa.
Also see . . . Operation Eagle Claw. (Submitted on April 3, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 3, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 107 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 3, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.