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Today is the 30th anniversary of the takeover by militants of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. According to the Carter Library, of the 66 Americans who were taken hostage, 13 were released on Nov. 19 and 20, 1979; one was released on July 11, 1980, and the remaining 52 were released on Jan. 20, 1981.
The 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.
Anna Tinsley of the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, TX wrote recently about Rick Kupke, one the the 52 hostages, who recalled his 444 days as Iranian hostage (As anniversary nears, Arlington man recalls his 444 days as Iranian hostage). Excerpts below:
Rick Kupke was busy encrypting classified messages inside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when the Marine Corps guard yelled over the radio, “They’re coming over the wall!”
Kupke, then a 33-year-old communications officer and electronics specialist, sent the telegram, closed a vault door to keep workers in the second-floor office safe and began shredding sensitive government documents — including those about unpopular Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who fled to the U.S. that year.
“The State Department asked me if I destroyed all the cables going back and forth about the shah. They said, ‘You have to confirm to us that you personally destroyed that.’ I said, ‘Yes.’ Then they gave us the order to destroy all of our equipment.”
After Kupke smashed Teletype machines, he began the first of three trips to the roof to keep rifles and shotguns out of the hands of Iranians. After his third trip, he became the 66th — and final — American taken hostage that day.
Kupke said he’ll call a handful of the 42 living hostages Wednesday. But Nov. 4 is not the day many of the hostages choose to remember.
The day they’d rather remember is Jan. 20, when they were released, former charge d’affaires L. Bruce Laingen of Bethesda, Md., has said.
“That’s a good day,” he said. “Nov. 4 is the day the roof fell in.”
Read the whole thing here.
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