The Iranian Revolution of 1979, the backdrop of the hostage conflict, was an effort to overthrow the oppressive, U.S.--backed regime under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The Shah, exiled from Iran, was replaced with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a radical Islamist cleric. U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in a diplomatic effort, invited the Shah to New York to receive cancer treatment in October of that year, leading many Iranian revolutionaries to believe the U.S. was once again siding with the former regime. Days after the Shah's arrival in New York, a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 66 people hostage.
ADST.org takes a first-hand look at life as a hostage
Tricked by an acquintance to come to work early that day, Metrinko had no clue he would spend the next 14 months a captive. His advanced knowledge of Farsi made him a suspect, which ultimately forced Metrinko into solitary confinement for the first 6 months of captivity. But how does one pass time as a hostage?
"I was doing 1000 sit-ups a day."
"I got by by doing a tremendous amount of physical exercise. When I say that, I mean a really tremendous amount of physical exercise. I was doing a thousand sit-ups a day. I’d run in place for two or three hours. And I would do this all day long every day because I had to get tired enough to fall asleep. Otherwise you don’t sleep."
Held at the Iranian Foreign Ministry
"If you are going to be overrun by a revolutionary group at an embassy, make sure you are overrun by groups a little less passionate in their zeal and determination than those in Tehran,
was apparent in many ways in the months that followed, and not least in the way they laboriously over hours and hours, days and days, and still today probably, pieced back together a lot of the damaging paper, strip by strip."
because their passion, their determination, their zeal as revolutionaries
"His harboring us made it official"
Six U.S. Embassy officials evaded capture that fateful day by moving from vacant house to vacant house before finding a more lasting refuge at the homes of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor and Consul General John Sheardown, who welcomed them despite great personal risk. The events that unfolded over the next three months were depicted in the 2012 film Argo. CIA and Canadian intelligence operatives worked together to rescue the six by disguising them as a film crew for an upcoming fictional film. Kathleen Stafford and her husband were among the house guests.
"Something we didn’t know at the time was that Charge Laingen had told someone in the Foreign Ministry that the Canadians were sheltering some of us in hopes that they would help us. They just kept quiet."
8 U.S. SERVICE MEN KILLED
President Carter ordered a special mission to rescue the hostages. The operation failed, and resulted in the crashing of one U.S. helicopter, injuring 5 and killing 8 servicemen.
“I had very little faith in my government protecting me.”-Metrinko
Negotiations between the U.S. and Iran were expedited
following the death of the Shah and a series of border disputes between Iran and Iraq. The bulk of the negotiations took place in Algeria, as the Iranians refused to communicate directly with then President Carter. Carter was defeated in November of that year by Ronald Reagan. The Algiers Accords finalized on January 19, 1981. and following Reagan's inauguration speech, the hostages were released, thus ending the crisis. As a condition of release, the U.S. took a vow that "it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs".