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The Guts to Try: The Untiold Story of the Iran Hostage Rescue Mission by the On-Scene Desert Commander (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 30. April 2002

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Colonel James H. Kyle, USAF (Ret.), was the commander of the Air Force component of the Iran Rescue Mission in 1980 and was commander of the landing zone in Iran known as Desert-I. He has extensive experience (including time in Vietnam) and knowledge in special operations. Kyle served in the Air Force for thirty years, earned several decorations, and logged 9,000 crew flying hours, 1,000 of those in combat. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.

John R. Eidson is Copy Desk Chief, Features Department, of the Press Telegram, in Long Beach, California.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.


Combined News Services

Tehran, Iran (Nov. 4, 1979)—A mob of Iranian students overran U.S. Marine guards in a three-hour struggle Sunday and invaded the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seizing American staff members and some Iranian employees as hostages, Tehran Radio reported. They demanded that the United States send the exiled shah back to Iran for trial, the radio said.

No serious injuries were reported. Tehran Radio said as many as 100 hostages were being held, but an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said he believed there were 35 Americans and seven or eight Iranians.

The spokesman, reached in Tehran by telephone from New York, said an estimated 200 or 300 students were involved. Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 11, 1979 It was a little after 10:00 on a bright fall night. I was turning into my driveway, returning home after dinner, when I spotted the note taped on the garage door. My heart gave a little skip. I wasn’t used to having notes stuck on my garage door. It’s sort of like telegrams; it has to be bad news.

I left the headlights on while I got out of the car to see what it was.

“Urgent. Contact Lee Hess . . .” And it gave a phone number that I recognized as Pentagon. The note was signed by Major Doug Brazil, an AC-130 gunship pilot who had served with me in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

I rushed into the house and gave Doug a call to let him know I’d gotten the note and find out if he knew what it was about. He said he didn’t, but that Lee was serious about the urgency and wanted me to call no matter what the time was.

I couldn’t suppress my excitement as I dialed the Pentagon number. This obviously wasn’t a social call. Not at that time of night . . . and from the Pentagon. Something was up. A voice answered and stated the number I had just dialed, a practice I was familiar with in the Special Operations business.

“This is Colonel Kyle calling for Major Lee Hess.”

“Wait one,” the voice said.

Lee had been a Special Operations protégé of mine back at Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) headquarters in the mid-’70s, and I knew he was still in “the business,” now on the Air Staff. I hadn’t heard from him, except for Christmas cards, for several years.

Since it was after midnight in Washington, I was certain that Lee had something pretty hot to tell me.

“Kimo. Is that you?”

“Kimo” is “Jim” in Hawaiian, and Lee and his wife, Ginny, had always called me that.

“Major General Bob Taylor wants you here—like yesterday. How soon can you make it?”

“Are you shittin’ me, Lee? What’s he want me for?”

“This is no joke. It’s urgent. I can’t tell you anything more than I already have. Just get here—and fast.”

Now I was really cranked up. The tone of his voice told me that this was serious business.

I told him I’d start calling airlines and would get back to him as soon as I had something, but it wouldn’t be easy at that time of night.

He rogered that and we broke off so I could get moving.

As I was calling, I thought about Major General Bob Taylor. I had known him back at PACAF in the mid-’70s, when he was director of plans. I had worked a couple of projects with his staff and had come to know him as a tough taskmaster.

But the burning question was, what the hell did he want with me? I hadn’t seen him in years and had no idea what his job was in the Pentagon.

I finally found a ticket office open and got a booking on a 3:30 a.m. flight, due to arrive at Washington National Airport at 10:30 Monday.

I called Lee back, and he said, “When you get to Washington, take a cab to the Pentagon River Entrance. Go to the guard post and call this number, and I’ll come and get you.”

His final words were: “Bring enough clothes to last you for a while . . . and don’t worry, it’s for real.”

I was left with a dial tone and that old familiar knot in my stomach that always showed up when I was heading into the unknown. I thought, I hope my boss buys this story.

Meanwhile, my thoughts were racing.

I had just been assigned to the Kirtland Air Force Base resource management shop of the 1606th Air Base Wing, which provides planning, supply, transportation, finance, and accounting support to some 140 tenant organizations representing all services. Pretty tame stuff after the previous ten years in Special Operations. But then, the Air Force had a hard time finding places for us “snake eaters,” especially after the end of the Vietnam War. There just weren’t that many jobs for all the colonels in that career field.

So here I was . . . in Albuquerque. My wife, Eunice, had stayed in Honolulu, our permanent home, and kept her civilian job with the Air Force. I was on what the Air Force calls an unaccompanied tour, living off base, and had just gotten settled in a house I was attempting to buy.

What is this all about?

I had my suspicions. It had been just a week since radical militants in Iran had taken over our embassy in Tehran, and they were holding a lot of Americans hostage. The country was in an uproar, and I knew there had to be extensive activity in the Pentagon planning rooms over this one. Something had to be done. These people were telling us to take international law and stick it in our ear. I suspected that Special Operations considerations would be high on our list and that somehow this late-night summons was connected.

But I won’t know until I get there.

I packed a garment bag and a shoulder bag with mostly summer wear, since that was about all I had. The New Mexico weather had been just right for my Hawaii garb.

Now I was dialing Jack Sheppard, the wing commander, with a wild story and very little detail. And, to make matters worse, it was almost midnight and I was probably waking him up.

A sleepy voice answered, “Colonel Sheppard.”

“Sir, this is Jim Kyle. Sorry to bother you at this hour, but I have just been directed by a general officer in the Pentagon to report there immediately for special duty.”

I assured him that I knew the officer who had relayed the message and that it was for real.

I told him I was sorry I couldn’t tell him more, but he knew everything I did.

He didn’t hesitate. “Get going and let me know more when you get there—if you can.”

Before I rang off, I said, “Boss, don’t tell anybody where I’ve gone. Just say I’m on a special project—nothing else.”

Meanwhile, I had one more tough phone call to make. What in God’s name was I going to tell Eunice?

As I was dialing Honolulu, I was thinking that no way would she be fooled by some cock-and-bull story. So I made up my mind to tell her all I knew. After all, she had worked for the Air Force for twenty-five years, had a top secret clearance, and knew full well how to deal with sensitive information.

It was still early Sunday evening in Hawaii when she picked up the phone.

“Hi. It’s me. Your long-distance roommate. This is going to sound crazy. . . .”

I told her about the phone conversation with Lee Hess, whom she knew well, and of General Taylor’s request for my presence first thing Monday morning. Eunice also knew the general from his time at PACAF, where she worked. When all was said and done, she knew what I knew. Better plans would have to wait until I could get settled in Washington.

We also talked about the financial arrangements on the house, now in...


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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Beside the fact that this story is an extremly detailed account of the actions at that time, a reader, only a little bit experienced in these matters, can't help in asking himself while reading why wasn't this made this way or why wasn't made that that way ?
On some occasions I was deeply disappointed about the naivety of this Joint Task Force awaiting the things which would come. Partly bad planned, partly bad equipped, participants with the heart and the mood of a coward and too much commanders on the scene. It consequently ended up where it must - in a total mess.
The most worst thinking after reading this story is the fact that it could have been possible to succeed with this mission successfully - if there wouldn't have been so many commanders on the spot, instead of only one who would have been in a position to motivate the men, instead of sending their moods into the dust.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x93a60f60) von 5 Sternen 46 Rezensionen
37 von 38 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93a6cc3c) von 5 Sternen Review by a key participant in the rescue attempt 1. Mai 2002
Von Roland D Guidry - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I was the commander of the MC-130 squadron chosen to participate in the mission. Jim Kyle, author of "The Guts to Try", was my boss throughout the preparation for the mission. I had kept detailed notes on all the training, rehearsal, etc., with the intent to write my own book. I am the one mentioned on page 7 in the "guts to try" story that lead to the book's title. I was the commander of the 5 Air Force fatalities at Desert One. Col Kyle and I were raked over the coals by the US Senate and House military committees with Kyle taking most of the heat over the accident. I went on to be the chief air planner for preparation for the second attempt buy Kyle was replaced by General Richard Secord as the senior Air Force member of the task force. I therefore surrendered by notes to Kyle and helped him put together the book rather than pursue my own. He did a remarkable job in telling the story correctly. Out of the ashes of Desert One has emerged a capability to do Special Ops better and with few casualties. "The Guts to Try" is an important accounting of the bottoming out and rebirth of Special Ops. Few people realize how much our capability improved during the 5 1/2 months of preparation--this book helps the reader realize that there was more to be proud about associated with Desert One than is apparent. Special Ops would have achieved its current high capability eventually---but Desert One and Jim's book got us there quicker. Roland Guidry,...
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93a6cc90) von 5 Sternen Because I Was There.... 5. Februar 1999
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I consider Colonel Kyle's book the one that opened the floodgate on consequent books about special operations and forces. While it is mainly an after action report of a perceived failure by US military forces, it is also a personal account of one of the task force commanders in charge of several hundred hand picked volunteers who earned their degrees at the 'University of Blood, Sweat, and Tears'. What makes it unique is Colonel Kyle's desire to be accountable for what happened that night when so many who were involved, both political and military, chose to save their own skins and point fingers. It is a good read for those who say history can and will repeat itself. For those who were there, it is the 'welcome home' parade that we never got. It is an attempt to honor those who gave their all to rescue Americans they didn't know. For me, it is a well-worn aid I carry with me everywhere to remind me how fragile life is, how precious, and how wonderful it is to live in a country where those who serve their country do so in honor, unlike many of those who are appointed over them. For me, it is very personal. I lost my crew that night. My brothers. Very special men who taught me in the years since, to live life with purpose. This book tells their story as much as it tells what happened that cold clear night in the desert, when Americans flew from their homeland to that of an opressor, in the name of humanity.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93a6ce64) von 5 Sternen The Best Account of Operation Eagle Claw 25. Januar 2002
Von Scott Andrews - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Excellent account of the planning and execution, and ultimate failure, of Operation Eagle Claw. This book is just as good as Charlie Beckwith's "Delta Force," but much less famous. It covers the overall planning of Eagle Claw at a joint-forces administrative level above Beckwith, and covers the joint-forces command of the actual mission, since Kyle was the overall commander at Desert One. The mechanical and personal failures of the helocopters and their crews are also discussed, as well as Kyle's conclusions on why the mission failed. Beckwith's book covers SFOD-Delta issues more closely, but Kyle's book examines why Eagle Claw failed.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93a6d4b0) von 5 Sternen An incredibly detailed description of a mission. 4. Oktober 2002
Von Michael T Kennedy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This exhaustive description of the planning and execution of Operation Eagle Claw, the attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages, gives the reader a sense of how complex the mission was. There is an old aphorism about the military that says, "The amateur talks about tactics and strategy while the professional talks logistics." This is one of the few military books I have read that provides enough (almost too much depending on your taste) detail about what it takes to carry out a mission deep in enemy territory. At the beginning, after realizing the problems they faced, I could not see how they could succeed. That they came as close as they did is what is truly amazing. It also speaks to the decrepit state of the military seven years after the end of the Viet Nam War. They had the men but lacked adequate resources. Fortunately changes were coming. This story helped to lead the way.
11 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93a6d834) von 5 Sternen The Iran Rescue was a usmc failure 5. Mai 1998
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Readers will finally see in his book that the Iran rescue failed due to the usmc demanding it get a role it was not qualified or equipped to fill. This ad hoc attachment of helicopter pilots using untried equipment doomed the mission and led to the 8 men dead in the desert. Col. Kyle goes into great details about the dynamics of Special Operations flying and it becomes clear that the MC-130 Combat Talon I is one heck of a fine airplane that saves the day when the helicopters failed.
Looking at history with 20-20 hindsight it seems more reasonable to have used USAF Special Operations combat pilots still on active duty from the nearly flawlessly executed Son Tay POW camp rescue in 1970 and flown them and their helicopters inside transport planes to Manzariyeh airfield secured by U.S. Army Rangers from the first than to have messed around with Desert One in the first place. Delta Force itself should have parachuted into the outskirts of Teheran met up with the trucks with hidden compartments to infiltrate into the city for the assault to free the 52 American hostages. The helicopters would only have been used to fly to the soccer field and back to Manzariyeh, where the entire force could have flown out by USAF jet transports.
Its clear from Col Kyle's book that the Rescuers "had the guts to try" but not the political guts supporting them to keep unqualified participation away so the very BEST plan could be put together instead of a compromised one. The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Act has corrected this today by insuring SOF units have their own aviation assets fully qualified to fly such daring missions. But it came at the price of 8 men dead and at least 1 man's career ruined--Colonel "Charging Charlie" Beckwith who became the "fall guy" for the operation when it should have been the usmc.
Col Kyle's book is a must read for every military professional alive today.
Mike Sparks 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne)
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