Debacle in The Desert

Carter's mission to rescue the hostages goes down in flames

Two lines of blue lights etched the outlines of the remote landing strip. Suddenly flames illuminated the night sky, then gradually flickered out. On the powdery sands of Dasht-e-Kavir, Iran's Great Salt Desert, lay the burned-out hulk of a lumbering U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft. Nearby rested the scorched skeleton of a U.S. Navy RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter. And in the wreckage were the burned bodies of eight American military air crewmen.

A few hours later, in a...

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