Wednesday, November 04, 2009

30th Anniversary of the Embassy Takeover in Iran

Thirty years ago today, on November 4, 1979, Iranian students overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took the occupants hostage. Six hostages escaped and took refuge at the Canadian Embassy (they later fled the country with the assistance of the Canadaians, who then closed their own embassy). Over the course of the next two weeks, some were released, including non-Americans, all but two of the women and all but one African American. Eight months later, another hostage was freed because of illness.

The remaining 52 hostages were held for a total of 444 days. One of them was William Belk, a native of South Carolina. I vividly remember the news reports each night about him. It brought this crisis home to South Carolina. In some small way, I hope my service honors him.

The hostages were released on January 20, 1981, moments after President Reagan was inagurated.

Today, the the former American Embassy Tehran is a museum to the Iranian revolution.

You can read more about the takeover in the book Guests of the Ayatollah.

The following list of hostages was borrowed from's entry about the Embassy takeover.

The Hostages:

6 Evading Diplomats

Robert Anders, 34 - Consular Officer

Mark J. Lijek, 29 - Consular Officer

Cora A. Lijek, 25 - Consular Assistant

Henry L. Schatz, 31 - Agriculture Attaché

Joseph D. Stafford, 29 - Consular Officer

Kathleen F. Stafford, 28 - Consular Assistant

13 Women and African-American Personnel were captured, held hosage and released on 19-20 November, 1979

Kathy Gross, 22 - Secretary

Sgt. James Hughes, 30 - USAF Administrative Manager

Lillian Johnson, 32 - Secretary

Sgt. Ladell Maples, 23 - USMC Embassy Guard

Elizabeth Montagne, 42 - Secretary

Sgt. William Quarles, 23 - USMC Embassy Guard

Lloyd Rollins, 40 - Administrative Officer

Capt. Neal (Terry) Robinson, 30 - Administrative Officer

Terri Tedford, 24 - Secretary Sgt.

Joseph Vincent, 42 - USAF Administrative Manager

Sgt. David Walker, 25 - USMC Embassy Guard

Joan Walsh, 33 - Secretary

Cpl. Wesley Williams, 24 - USMC Embassy Guard

1 hostage captured, held and released on 11 July 1980 because of Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis

Richard I. Queen, 28 - Vice Consul 52

Remaining Hostages, held captive until 20 January, 1980

Thomas L. Ahern, Jr., -Narcotics Control Officer

Clair Cortland Barnes, 35 - Communications Specialist

William E. Belk, 44 - Communications and Records Officer

Robert O. Blucker, 54 - Economics Officer Specializing in Oil

Donald J. Cooke, 26 - Vice Consul

William J. Daugherty, 33 - 3rd Secretary of U.S. Mission

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Englemann, 34 - USN Attaché

Sgt. William Gallegos, 22 - USMC Guard

Bruce W. German, 44 - Budget Officer

Duane L. Gillette, 24 - USN Communications and Intelligence Specialist

Alan B. Golancinksi, 30 - Security Officer

John E. Graves, 53 - Public Affairs Officer

Joseph M. Hall, 32 - CWO Military Attaché

Sgt. Kevin J. Hermening, 21 - USMC Guard

Sgt. 1st Class Donald R. Hohman, 38 - USA Medic

Col. Leland J. Holland, 53 - Military Attaché

Michael Howland, 34 - Security Aide, held at Iranian Foreign Ministry Office

Charles A. Jones, Jr., 40 - Communications Specialist and Teletype Operator. Only African-American hostage not released in November 1979.

Malcolm Kalp, 42 - Affiliation Unknown

Moorhead C. Kennedy Jr., 50 - Economic and Commercial Officer

William F. Keough, Jr., 50 - Superintendent of American School in Islamabad, Pakistan, visiting Tehran at time of embassy seizure

Cpl. Steven W. Kirtley - USMC Guard

Kathryn L. Koob, 42 - Embassy Cultural Officer; one of two female hostages

Frederick Lee Kupke, 34 - Communications Officer and Electronics Specialist

L. Bruce Laingen, 58 - Chargé d’Affaires, held at Iranian Foreign Ministry Office

Steven Lauterbach, 29 - Administrative Officer

Gary E. Lee, 37 - Administrative Officer

Sgt. Paul Edward Lewis, 23 - USMC Guard

John W. Limbert, Jr., 37 - Political Officer

Sgt. James M. Lopez, 22 - USMC Guard

Sgt. John D. McKeel, Jr., 27 - USMC Guard

Michael J. Metrinko, 34 - Political Officer

Jerry J. Miele, 42 - Communications Officer

Staff Sgt. Michael E. Moeller, 31 - Head of USMC Guard Unit at Embassy

Bert C. Moore, 45 - Counselor for Administration

Richard H. Morefield, 51 - U.S. Consul General in Tehran

Capt. Paul M. Needham, Jr., 30 - USAF Logistcs Staff Officer

Robert C. Ode, 65 - Retired Foreign Service Officer on Temporary Duty in Tehran

Sgt. Gregory A. Persinger, 23 - USMC Guard

Jerry Plotkin, 45 - Civilian Businessman visiting Tehran

MSgt. Regis Ragan, 38 - USA NCO assigned to Defense Attaché’s Office

Lt. Col. David M. Roeder, 41 - Deputy USAF Attaché

Barry M. Rosen, 36 - Press Attaché

William B. Royer, Jr., 49 - Assistant Director of Iran-American Society

Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, 50 - USAF Attaché

Col. Charles W. Scott, 48 - USA Officer, Military Attaché

Cmdr. Donald A. Sharer, 40 - USN Air Attaché

Sgt. Rodney V. (Rocky) Sickmann, 22 - USMC Guard

Staff Sgt. Joseph Subic, Jr., 23 - Military Police, USA, Defense Attaché’s Staff

Elizabeth Ann Swift, 40 - Chief of Embassy’s Political Section; 1 of 2 female hostages

Victor L. Tomseth, 39 - Senior Political Officer, held at Iranian Foreign Ministry Office

Phillip R. Ward, 40 - Administrative Officer

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