Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Iran Hostage Crisis

with 4 comments

Day 4

On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran and began to consolidated power. When President Jimmy Carter allowed the Shah to visit America for cancer treatment in October 1979, radicals in Iran seized the American embassy on November 4, fearing a repeat of 1953, when the US and the UK deposed a previous Iranian government and put the Shah in his place. Fifty-three people were taken as hostages.

For many, the most famous pictures of the hostage crisis–which lasted 444 days–were taken on its very first day. Many photographers were a demonstration nearby and they rushed onto the scene just in time to take the memorable images of blindfolded communication officer William Belk (topmost) and footage of another blindfolded communication officer Jerry Meile led away by the militants. Seeing how damaging these pictures are to the morale of the American public, the militants would parade the blindfolded and handcuffed hostages for the cameras for the next few days to humiliate Washington.

After much dithering, Jimmy Carter decided to send a rescue operation, which he had to abort when helicopters malfunctioned, and one crashed into a transport plane while taking off. Walter Cronkite would measure its hostage crisis by added a count of days to his famous sign-off. The hostage crisis along with the deepening economic crisis, cost Carter his reelection bid. After the election, Carter tried harder than before to get hostages released, but the Iranians made a point of releasing them just minutes after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. The 444-day crisis was over, but not America’s long national nightmare with Iran.

See this excellent paper on media impact during the hostage crisis: http://www.cloudjammer.com/ojd/downloads/jordan_john_d_200705_ma.pdf

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

March 3, 2010 at 1:42 am

4 Responses

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  1. There is a rumor that the Iranian directly to the right of the hostage in pictures 2 and 3 is Ahmadinejad. The beard is almost unmistakable.

    Billy

    March 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm

  2. Reagan/Bush cut a deal with the Iranians to make sure they were not released before the election. It was known as Arms for Hostages. Is this point not germaine to this topic?

    Innocent Bystander

    March 18, 2010 at 8:01 pm

  3. When President Jimmy Carter allowed the Shah to visit America for cancer treatment in October 1979, radicals in Iran seized the American embassy on November 4, fearing a repeat of 1953, when the US and the UK deposed a previous Iranian government and put the Shah in his place

    What is this babbling nonsense? The Islamofascist regime seized our embassy because they were afraid of us? It was purely an act of spite.

    TallDave

    April 7, 2010 at 7:50 pm

  4. A friend of mine SSgt. Larry Pennamin was a Marine sent from the embassy in New Delhi to help protect the embassy in Tehran just before the take over. Being a secret mission he traveled with false documents & out of uniform. If anyone involved remembers SSgt. Pennamin, pleas contact me. VA is denying him PTSD status because they say being a hostage is not same as a POW.
    Thanks,
    Tom

    tom warnock

    May 3, 2010 at 11:23 pm


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