‘The Americans were Coming’: Details on the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis

The 1979 U.S. hostage crisis in Iran began on Nov. 4, 1979 when U.S. diplomats including Ambassador to Iran, Reuel Marc Gerecht, were taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance were unable to negotiate the release of the hostages. On Nov. 18, a fire broke out at the embassy, which soon after saw the firing of tear gas and a barrage of military weapons on the diplomats. The U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Iran.

The longest-serving hostage, U.S. Marine-Sergeant Edward Hobson, was released from the Iranian Embassy on Dec. 17, after being held for more than six months. He was taken by the Iranians in a daring plot that included 35 other diplomats. Hobson returned to the U.S. and was greeted by thousands of Americans who had protested against his detention in the streets and showed up at the White House to welcome him home.

After months of talks, the United States and Iran finally reached a prisoner swap in January 1981. It reportedly involved the release of 17 prisoners and $32 million in ransom for American prisoners held in Iran.

The American hostages were released in January 1981.

The U.S. Embassy in Tehran was eventually ransomed, along with American diplomats serving as hostages, by Iran in September 1979. Later that year, Iran captured 52 U.S. military contractors and held them for about 12 days. Twenty-four of the hostages were released during a POW exchange during the summer of 1980.

The U.S. Embassy was then ransomed by Iran for a total of 19 hostages and an $88 million ransom. President Ronald Reagan later sent the Iranian Embassy a letter in 1982 asking for an apology, but Iran did not grant the request.

The U.S. held a prisoner swap in January 1981.

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