Friday, October 16, 2015

We remember

The Iran hostage crisis of 1979 was a story that consumed Americans for months. When the American embassy in Tehran was stormed by revolutionaries, 50 Americans were taken hostage. The failure to get them back was probably what doomed the reelection hopes of President Jimmy Carter. Of course, we later learned that his opponent in the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan, was working behind the scenes to make sure all those people stayed captive until after the election. Such is politics - at least as some people practice it.

But there was another part of the storming of the embassy that went under the radar at the time. Six Americans managed to escape and had to find refuge in a city that had gone mad for American blood. Where could they turn?

They turned to the Canadian embassy and its ambassador, Ken Taylor. Mr. Taylor gave shelter to the six and worked on a plan to get them out of the country. In fact, he was the person who President Jimmy Carter called the "main hero" of their eventual rescue.  

As The Washington Post wrote this week:
When the U.S. embassy in Tehran was stormed by Islamist students and militants, six American diplomats escaped and found sanctuary in the homes of Taylor and his first secretary John Sheardown. In addition to shielding the Americans from Iranian capture, Taylor also played a crucial role in plotting their escape.
Working with CIA officials and Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, Taylor obtained for the Americans six Canadian passports containing forged Iranian visas that ultimately allowed them to board a flight to Switzerland. He undertook all these covert actions at a high personal risk, as he and his team would have been taken hostage themselves in the case of discovery by the Islamist militants.
Thanks largely to Mr. Taylor's efforts, the six Americans made it home safely and did not have to join their 50 colleagues in their long captivity. 

Ken Taylor died this week at the age of 81. Condolences to his family and loved ones, and may he rest in well-deserved peace. 

We remember.

4 comments:

  1. Did you see the movie Argo? It is loosely based on the rescue of those 6 embassy personnel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I did see Argo and enjoyed it tremendously. It did not feature Mr. Taylor's efforts as prominently as they played out in real life, a fact which Ben Affleck acknowledged and, in fact, added a footnote to the film to address that. Apparently, he and Mr. Taylor became friends as a result of his work on the movie.

      Delete
  2. Yes, we remember Ambassador Taylor, God bless him. We saw Argo and it is amazing to me that this story is not known. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He didn't necessarily get all the credit he deserved, but no doubt the six remember him well.

      Delete