Sailing in Harm's Way

Action and tension behind the scenes during "Operation Prairie Fire"

"They also serve who only stand and wait." That was what White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan recalls thinking early Monday morning after he heard that Libya had fired two errant SA-5 missiles at U.S. planes flying off the Libyan coast. For 36 hours, Regan and other top aides had been waiting for news from the Gulf of Sidra, where three U.S. carrier groups were skirting Muammar Gaddafi's "line of death." Vice Admiral Frank Kelso, commander of the Sixth Fleet, had orders to fire if fired upon, but he had yet to make his move. "It was frustrating," Regan says....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!