Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Desert Phoenix

Here's another important story no one is covering: the 25th anniversary of a crucial event on the road to September 11: the failure of a tiny, timid rescue operation mounted by the Carter administration during the Iran hostage crisis. Our soldiers took the failure like men, vowing to improve their skills and resolve so that such an embarrassment would never happen again. Our political leaders, alas, drew no such lessons.

"America Remembers Desert One Heroes," Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service, 4/25/05

"Air Force Lt. Gen Norton Schwartz, director of the Joint Staff, called the failure of the Iran hostage rescue mission a seminal event in recent American military history. He said the mission was 'so important that the nation's self-image, its standing and reputation in the world community, and the fate of a presidency hung in the balance.' When the mission failed, media reports were full of recriminations, and nations around the world called the United States a toothless lion. 'Yet at the same time, the memory of Desert One propelled a generation, of which I am a part, to assure that America would never again repeat that searing, transforming experience of the 25th of April 1980,' Schwartz said.... The general said that all Americans share the grief of the families who lost loved ones that day. But they died trying, Schwartz said. They kept the promise. 'Because on that murky night, when they faced America's adversary and their own fears, your men did not submit,' Schwartz told the families. 'They did not retire. They didn't then, and we, their successors—in large measure in their honor—do not and will not now.' "