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OPERATION HOTFOOT (STFU, Jimmy Carter; here's what Perot/Green Beret Simons did about Iran hostages) ^ | 11-2009

Posted on 11/18/2009 8:52:26 AM PST by doug from upland

Operation HOTFOOT

EDS was founded not only with the spirit of heroism but also with integral components to its business philosophy—teamwork, performance, and commitment. This year EDS celebrates the 25th anniversary of the singular event that defines this philosophy: the daring rescue of two of EDS' own employees imprisoned in Iran. On March 26, 2004, a panel discussion moderated by former TV newsman Murphy Martin marked the anniversary with laughter and much emotion. Taking part in the moderated session were Jeff Heller, EDS' president and chief operating officer; former hostages Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord; company founder Ross Perot; and Jay Coburn, second in command of the EDS rescue team.

Many of the men hired in the company's formative years came to EDS from the battlefields of Vietnam. In those early days, the EDS family wore a uniform—a suit, a tie, and a sharp appearance, from a clean-shaven face to a well-polished pair of shoes. And they understood what it meant to take risks. Perot said, "I told the recruiters for years, I want people who are smart, self-reliant, people who have a history of successes . . . and bring me people who love to win. And we always had a bunch of smart alecks, no matter what I said, and they'd raise their hands and say, 'What if we run out of people who love to win.' So I'd say, 'Well, bring me somebody who hates to lose!'"

The year was 1978 and Christmas was drawing near. EDS was working on a contract with the Iranian government to put in place a new electronic social security system. Murmurs of unrest could be heard and crisis was coming. EDS evacuated employees and their families from Tehran. However, two remained behind to deliver on promises made to the client and keep the business going. Those two, Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord, were taken hostage during the political turmoil.

After Perot appealed to both the US and Iranian governments on behalf of his colleagues to no avail, a more unconventional strategy began to form. EDS president and chief operating officer Jeff Heller recalls, "At that time in our history, we were more of a family than a big ol' corporation." The commitment to each other, the experience of the employees, and the family atmosphere made it seem logical to hatch plans for a rescue attempt. Operation HOTFOOT (Help Our Two Friends Out Of Tehran) was underway. EDSers Merv Stauffer and Tom Marquez visited Murphy Martin, a veteran newsman for a Dallas TV station and ABC News. Stauffer and Marquez were looking for a way to get Perot into Iran. Martin called some of his TV network contacts and learned that the news operations at ABC, CBS, and NBC used a rotating system of courier jets to get news film into and out of Iran. Martin passed the information to the EDS duo, who called a few days later to say, "It worked." "What worked?" Martin asked. "Ross got in. He made it into Iran."

Perot, then EDS chief executive, had slipped into Iran on January 13, posing as a film courier for NBC. Perot had recruited the legendary Arthur D. "Bull" Simons, retired member of the U.S. Army Green Berets, to plan and help carry out the rescue. Colonel Simons asked Perot to go to the prison and let Chiapparone and Gaylord know they should be ready to go. Perot fulfilled this perilous mission even while being sought by authorities in Iran because, "Colonel Simons told me to do it." While there, Perot delivered a few things to the captives such as Christmas cards from their families, magazines, some food, and clothing. "At first, it was amazing that Ross was walking across the courtyard," Gaylord said when asked what he thought when Perot arrived at the prison. "But on second thought it wasn't because he was the only man in the world who would have done that."

Perot asked men at EDS with military experience to volunteer for the rescue mission. He hoped that one out of five employees asked would join the mission. Instead, everyone said yes. "Most of these guys had been through Vietnam and had been in some really tough situations," said Chiapparone. "But they didn't have to do this. I mean, they had families to think about." The overwhelming response reinforced the idea of EDS as a family, a company whose employees are its biggest asset and whose leaders believe they have a responsibility to take care of their people.

"There was never any doubt in anybody's mind that we would pull it off," said team member Ralph Boulware. "We were a lot younger, a lot more assertive, a lot more confident. The concept of failing just didn't enter our minds. We rehearsed it, we talked about it, we thoroughly trusted each other and the thought of not succeeding was really not an option." Once the two were freed from the prison, their journey took them across Iran to the Turkish border. Perot recalls that luck played no small part in their successful escape. There were many close calls before the men crossed the border into Turkey and safety.

Two members of the rescue team are still EDS employees. Glenn Jackson is a service delivery executive in Rochester, New York. Bob Young is an enterprise client executive for the Dow Chemical account in Midland, Michigan. In 1979, Jackson was assigned to drive the getaway car after Chiapparone and Gaylord were freed from prison. Young was part of the EDS team negotiating with the Iranian government for the release of the two employees. They say the rescue mission exemplified how EDS did business. "This was something that needed to be done, so we did it," said Jackson. "We were encouraged to use innovation and creativity to get results. That was very much the EDS spirit."

Paul Chiapparone joined EDS in 1966 as a systems engineer. When he retired last year as vice chairman, he was EDS' longest-serving executive. Recalling his escape from the Iranian prison, Chiapparone said, "I have a tremendous sense of gratitude to Ross, Col. Simons and the entire rescue team. Here we are 25 years later, and we got to see our kids grow up. It wasn't at all guaranteed there for awhile."

Tragically, Col. Simons passed away a few months after leading the successful rescue mission. Col. Simons also served in Vietnam. While in Laos, Simons had made himself a gold ring with the figure of a bull as its crest. With permission from Col. Simons' family, Perot was able to have the ring cast, and each member of the rescue mission proudly wears a copy to this day. This symbol of their heroism embodies the successful rescue and "the same things we need to duplicate every day when we're out serving customers . . . Teamwork is essential to this. It was then and it is now," says EDS President Heller. "I am a believer that a culture that celebrates heroes and accomplishments can perpetuate itself on the good points."

Bob Grim, who recently celebrated his thirtieth anniversary with EDS, recalls hearing on the news about his fellow employees being taken hostage. Everyone was talking about the situation, but all were as yet unaware that Perot was taking steps to bring the hostages home. It was only after the successful conclusion of the mission that the rest of the company found out how it happened. Bob remembers getting the call informing him that the hostages had been rescued and were flying home. Each EDS employee was asked to come celebrate and welcome the rescuers and former hostages home. This tribute took place on the steps of the EDS headquarters, then located on Forest Lane in Dallas. The team, still dirty and dressed in clothes worn during the mission, addressed the crowd from the steps with their families at their side. Bob recalls hearing Col. Simons say he received his reward for the mission when he witnessed the families running over to the plane to meet their loved ones. Details about the mission were still sketchy at this point but began to come out. In the book On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett, the full story of dedication and courage was revealed.

In the young days of EDS, there weren't many rules. Perot always said, "Do what makes sense and think for yourself." Perot's vision for EDS and his true care for its employees were the cornerstones of the rescue.

One of the most amazing aspects about the rescue to Bob was that each of the employees who was asked accepted the mission to help their fellow EDSers, even with the realization they could be killed. Reflecting on this, Perot said, "I've always thought that as long as this country produces good people, it will remain great." Bob recalls when he joined the company and went through EDS School; 18 of the 19 members of his class were former military officers, including himself. Bob says, "EDS School was tough, sort of like boot camp," and believes this is another reason the feeling of camaraderie runs deep at EDS. The success of the rescue was due in part to this camaraderie but to something deeper as well, since most of the members of the team didn't know the men they were going to save. Bob says that Perot's actions and those of the rescue team reinforced what EDSers have long known. "Everybody knew we were working for the best company in the world. We knew together we could do anything."

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: carter; hostages; iran; perot
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1 posted on 11/18/2009 8:52:28 AM PST by doug from upland
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To: doug from upland

Carter has been lately defending his action in the hostage crisis. He was the wrong president at the wrong time. Just like Obama.

2 posted on 11/18/2009 8:53:31 AM PST by doug from upland (Barack Hussein Obama - making Jimmy Carter look better every day)
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To: This_far

Ping. Thanks for the heads up about this story on the other thread.

3 posted on 11/18/2009 8:55:32 AM PST by doug from upland (Barack Hussein Obama - making Jimmy Carter look better every day)
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To: doug from upland

Carter and Obama are the wrong presidents for ANY time.

4 posted on 11/18/2009 8:57:06 AM PST by isthisnickcool (GIVE ME YOUR MONEY B***!! - President Obama)
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To: doug from upland

I read this book some time ago (On Wings of Eagles), one of the best I’ve ever read

5 posted on 11/18/2009 8:57:15 AM PST by Las Vegas Ron (Oath keepers + The NRA = FReeRepublic (.com baby))
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To: Las Vegas Ron

What did they do to break them out of prison?

6 posted on 11/18/2009 9:04:55 AM PST by ChiefJayStrongbow
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To: doug from upland
Never heard of Col "Bull" Simons until I read, "The Raid: The Son Tay Prison Rescue Mission", years ago.
I highly recommend it.

7 posted on 11/18/2009 9:08:02 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: doug from upland

Where is this kind of character in our times? I read the book “On Wings of Eagles” and the things Ross Perot did to gain freedom for his trapped employees was amazing. He showed a real cowboy up kind of leadership. We need this kind of common sense today.

8 posted on 11/18/2009 9:08:24 AM PST by 7thOF7th (Righteousness is our cause and justice will prevail!)
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To: doug from upland

...if I’m not mistaken “Bull” Simmons came out of the old Studies and Operations operations that the 5th Special Forces ran along the Ho Che Mihn trail.

9 posted on 11/18/2009 9:08:43 AM PST by STONEWALLS
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To: 7thOF7th

whoops “were amazing”

10 posted on 11/18/2009 9:09:36 AM PST by 7thOF7th (Righteousness is our cause and justice will prevail!)
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To: doug from upland

I kinda wonder what would have happened if Perot had actually won in 1992........

Somewhere in an alternate universe someone has looked under the hood and the economy is thriving and there are no sucking sounds.

11 posted on 11/18/2009 9:13:09 AM PST by GraceG
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To: GraceG

This article tells us nothing. How were the two rescued? Were they held captive with the embassy hostages also?

My understanding is that once Carter botched the rescue attempt that hostages were split up and taken to various other locations...

12 posted on 11/18/2009 9:20:12 AM PST by nikos1121 (Praying for -16.)
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To: doug from upland

Ross Perot was another egomaniac idiot. Thanks to him... we got 8 years of Clinton.

13 posted on 11/18/2009 9:20:57 AM PST by nikos1121 (Praying for -16.)
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To: nikos1121

I don’t disagree with your statement, but give him credit for this.

14 posted on 11/18/2009 9:24:03 AM PST by doug from upland (Barack Hussein Obama - making Jimmy Carter look better every day)
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To: doug from upland

Can someone direct us to a story of what happened? I think I was in school at the time and may have read about it. I seem to recall that they located the two hostages... came back armed and then walked them out?

15 posted on 11/18/2009 9:35:41 AM PST by nikos1121 (Praying for -16.)
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To: ChiefJayStrongbow

Started a riot as a diversion. Took an overland route to Turkey. Really a helluva story. Check out Ken Follett’s book.

16 posted on 11/18/2009 9:48:00 AM PST by ItsForTheChildren
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To: nikos1121

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book in over 30 years, except of course for The Bible which has no equal, September 29, 2006
By Wile E Coyote - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: On Wings of Eagles (Mass Market Paperback)
Book Review: “On Wings of Eagles” by Ken Follett; published by William Morrow, New York in 1983; Non Fiction.

I read quite a few books, usually one or two per week on average, and my selection varies widely from the latest murder mystery fiction novels to the more mundane non fiction biographies of ordinary people that lived through extraordinary situations hundreds or even thousands of years ago. I am a firm believer that almost every book is worth reading especially if the alternative is not to read at all. I like reading so much that when left alone in an environment with no other suitable distraction I will often read the labels on product cartons including tissue boxes, furniture cushions, and even the tiny shampoo bottles found in hotels. Reading is educational, entertaining, and therapeutic while also being quite inexpensive, flexible, and completely portable. Like most readers I have developed a preference for a number of topics and acquired an addiction for a few select authors yet one book stands out among all others as by far the best book I have read in over 30 years of persistent study.

The book currently at the top of my list is “On Wings of Eagles” by Ken Follett. This book reads like a non-stop action thriller and it competes with the finest of the wild and dramatic novels out there yet the most incredible aspect of the story is that it is 100% true as recounted to the author first hand by many of the original subjects. I know this for fact as I have researched the story several times, at first in disbelief and then later out of admiration and a passion to find out even more about the origins of this unique situation and the amazing people that were involved. My research included querying numerous news archives, reviewing public profiles of several large corporations, communicating with a few veteran book collectors, and eventually to direct contact with the author who was kind enough to correspond with me on several occasions.

The story takes place in that late 1970s. It starts innocently enough when EDS, a large computer processing company based in Dallas, wins a contract from the Iranian government to provide computer hardware and software that will administer the Iranian social security system including taxes, finances, and payouts to the citizens of Iran. The company assigns hundreds of employees to the project and many of them are relocated to Iran where they setup a typical corporate office complete with cubicles, meeting rooms, typewriters, secretaries, etc. They install and maintain a massive mainframe computer system and live relatively normal lives including a Monday-Friday work week with shopping, social events, and errands on the weekends. A number of the main executives even brought their families with them to eliminate the burden of long term separation that often accompanies massive out of town projects. The wives furnish and decorate their houses and apartments, they buy cars and appliances, and the kids go to school just like they would back home in Dallas. Several families even have pets including dogs, cats, and birds.

For a while everything seems to be going well and the contract is worth many millions in revenue so the company is looking forward to a substantial profit as the deliverables are completed and payment is made. This is where the trouble starts. The Iranian government becomes unstable and they withhold payment on all invoices due to the company despite the significant work that has already been completed. Various fanatical groups emerge to stir up trouble in their desire to take over from the local government. Demonstrations are held in the streets, protests and vandalism become common, and civil order begins to erode. Eventually it becomes unsafe for the Americans to travel after dark and a curfew is imposed. The EDS workers and their families are concerned but they assume this is a temporary situation that will blow over in time once the political arguments are resolved. They are initially confident of their safety since they are providing a critical service to the Iranian government which in turn provides a valuable service to the Iranian citizens, so of course it would be unwise for Iran to turn on the service providers that are supporting them.

Unfortunately the opposite happens and in just a few short months the entire country is thrown into a full scale revolution which includes severe restrictions on travel. Violence, gunfire, and civil unrest are common place and there is now a much greater threat to Americans in particular. At this point the US government issues orders to evacuate all non-essential US embassy staff and American citizens living in Iran, so of course the company decides to evacuate the employees and temporarily shut down the project. Most of the employees put their belongings in storage or hire Iranian friends to look after their homes and possessions in anticipation of returning once order has been restored. A small skeleton crew of top executives and core employees volunteer to remain behind and maintain the system in hopes that the Iranian government will be restored, pay the outstanding invoices, and welcome the Americans back to resume their work on the lucrative contract.

Unbeknownst to EDS, the Iranian government was running out of money thus they were not able to pay the invoices however they also needed to keep the system running to maintain critical services if they were to eventually recover. To solve their dilemma one of the government officials decides to have two of the top executives arrested, interrogated, and jailed on false charges of corruption. The official refuses to pay the invoices and insists that the remaining crew continue to maintain the system. The executives are found guilty without a trial and bail is set at $13 million dollars. The entire process is quite unusual given the normal laws and legal processes in Iran so EDS immediately engages a team of top lawyers and US government officials to get their employees released from prison and returned to the US.

A long battle ensues driven primarily by Ross Perot, the EDS President, and his extensive network of powerful corporate and political allies. All options are considered including payment of the outrageous bail however nothing works. The US government is not willing to risk creating an international incident since the employees initially appear to be safe in jail, the legal advisors recommend against paying the bail since there is no assurance that the employees would be released and it could encourage further arrests or increased demands, and all attempts to reason or bargain with the Iranian government end in total failure. At this point Ross makes a bold move which would have been viewed as completely insane by many and actively thwarted by all government officials had they known about it at the time.

Ross decided to form a small team of his top executives by selecting those that were closest and most loyal to him. By coincidence they also just happened to be ex-military soldiers formerly assigned to Special Forces duty for the US Army. Ross then hired an old friend of his, a legendary retired military colonel and former Green Beret known as Col. Bull Simmons, to lead the newly formed commando team. He gathered the group in his Dallas headquarters, swore them to secrecy which included cover stories for their families, and charged them with doing whatever it took to rescue the imprisoned employees and bring them back to the US. He provided unlimited funds, transportation, and valuable connections to certain influential parties that could get things done. Then he stepped out of the way and let the team get to work.

Col. Simmons trained the team, conducted reconnaissance, obtained the proper gear, and arranged for the team to be smuggled into Iran. The remainder of the story is quite exciting and will keep you turning page after page well into the early morning hours as you fight off sleep and struggle to keep your eyes open for just one more paragraph. I won’t ruin the surprise by relating the outcome but suffice to say it is quite an adventure that serves as a reminder of how strong the bonds can become between team members when they are led and motivated by the best and then made dependent on each other for survival against all odds.

In closing I recommend that you buy not one but several copies of this book. You will want one to read, one to keep in safe storage with your permanent collection, and several to give to your family and friends. In the past several years I have purchased more than a dozen copies and given them all away except for one which is an original first edition hardback that was signed by Ken Follett, Ross Perot, and 7 of the top executives that were involved in the rescue operation. That copy is safely stored away with my most treasured possessions where it remains for many months at a time until I get the urge to pull it out and read it again or show it to friends as I highly recommend an item for their shopping list on their next trip to the bookstore.

17 posted on 11/18/2009 11:59:45 AM PST by doug from upland (Barack Hussein Obama - making Jimmy Carter look better every day)
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To: ItsForTheChildren

I don’t know if Carter “botched” the rescue plan. If anything he was listening to his military commanders when they told him that he should call the mission off because some of the aircraft were malfunctioning. It was when everyone was trying to leave did the accident happen. Just imagine what would’ve happened if they got the hostages out and then couldn’t fly them out? Operation Desert Claw was just too ambitious, relying on too many factors such as malfunctioning equipment, the fact that the CIA didn’t have any assets in Tehran, the fact that all of the branches wanted in on the rescue regardless of the fact that they had never even worked together before, the pilots had no training operating with special forces, and the fact that they couldn’t even practice the raid because of Soviet spy satellites and possible leaks. Let’s not even forget that a bus full of Iranians had to be held because they came across Delta Force in the middle of the desert.

18 posted on 11/18/2009 12:10:24 PM PST by gman992
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To: gman992

Also, because of malfunctions, the helicopters arrived on station late, blowing the rescue schedule had to fly below 200 feet even though the military detected Iranian radar signals at 3000 feet. This, of course, caused a dust storm which lead to the accident.

19 posted on 11/18/2009 12:15:55 PM PST by gman992
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To: gman992

Also, because of malfunctions, the helicopters arrived on station late, blowing the rescue schedule had to fly below 200 feet even though the military detected Iranian radar signals at 3000 feet. This, of course, caused a dust storm which lead to the accident.

20 posted on 11/18/2009 12:16:12 PM PST by gman992
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