L. Bruce Laingen, signed by author
Lowell Bruce Laingen (b. August 6, 1922) is an American retired diplomat who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Malta from 1977 to 1979. Laingen was the most senior American official held hostage during the Iran hostage crisis, serving as the Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In 1949 he joined the U.S. Foreign Service. On November 4, 1979, the U.S. embassy was overrun by student protesters. 63 hostages were taken at the embassy, while Laingen and two others were seized at the Iranian Foreign Ministry Office. Laingen and 51 hostages were released on January 20, 1981, following 444 days of captivity. Laingen’s next position was that of Vice President of the National Defense University. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1987 after 38 years of service. The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic standoff between Iran and the United States. Fifty two American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981 after a group of Iranian students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. It stands as the longest hostage crisis in recorded history. In Iran, it was widely seen as a blow against the United States and its influence in Iran. The crisis reached a climax when the United States military attempted a rescue operation using ships, including the USS Nimitz and USS Coral Sea, that were patrolling the waters near Iran. On April 24, 1980, the attempt, known as Operation Eagle Claw, failed. The hostages were formally released into U.S. custody the day after the signing of the Algiers Accords, just minutes after the new American president, Ronald Reagan, was sworn into office. The crisis is considered a pivotal episode in the history of Iran-United States relations.