The Iranian Government tried to create a racial tension back home by exploiting the release of several Marine Guards because they were African American, along with several women.
On November 17, 1979, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the release of 13 female and black American hostages being held at the US Embassy in Tehran.
The names of the Americans who were held and later released are:
Catherine Gross, 22, Cambridge Springs, PA – Secretary
Sgt James Hughes, 30, Langley Air Force Base, VA. Air Force Adminstrative manager
Lilian Johnson, 32, Elmont, NY, Secretary
Sgt Ladel Maples, 23, Earle, AR, Marine Security Guard
Elizabeth Montague, 42, Calumet City, IL, Secretary
Sgt William Quarles, 23, Washington DC, Marine Security Guard
Lloyd Rollins, 40, Alexandria VA, Administrative Officer
Capt. (Terry) Neil Robinson, 30, Houston, TX, Air Force Intelligence Officer
Terri Tedford, 24, South San Francisco, CA, secretary
Sgt Joseph Vincent, 42, New Orleans, LA, Air Force Adminstrative manger
Sgt David Walker, 25, Prairie View, TX, Marine Security Guard
Joan Walsh, 33, Ogden UT, CIA secretary
Cpl. Wesley Williams, 24, Albany, NY, Marine Security Guard
Sgt Quarles gave a short speech to the media. He repeated what we all know now, and that is that the Government of the U.S. made some serious mistakes about Iran, and that he was educated quite a bit on just what the Shah was doing to the Iranian People.
None of this justified their taking of our embassy.
Some viewed his speech as an act of cowardice. I won’t say that. They were letting him go home, while all the others were forced to stay. I am sure that was on his mind, that when he spoke on camera, he was to tow the line!
What I am upset with in this, is the attempt by the Iranians to start racial tensions here by this act. They made clear statements that Black Americans were mistreated by their government, and they were releasing these Black Americans to show solidarity with them. Knowing this, as a Marine, Quarles and Maples could have done an honorable thing and insist they stay with their Marine brothers and other Americans. But I am glad I never had to make that decision myself, and if I was there with them, I would tell them to go home and be safe as soon as possible.
Those men went through more than I ever did and ever hope to, and I wish them well, Quarels and Maples.
This attempt to incite racial hatred here backfired, though. While America still has a way to go in racial relations on both sides, who do these people think they are after their own countries history of slavery and hatred of Christians and Jews?