World War II’s Great Raid
Known as the most epic and complex mission of World War II, the Great Raid happened in January 1945 when 121 volunteer U.S. Army Rangers set out on a rescue mission to save more than 500 allied prisoners of war who survived the Bataan Death March. The assault lasted for 30 minutes and freed hundreds of soldiers.
The Rescue of Shiran Franco
During an earthquake that struck northwest Turkey in 1999, an Israeli delegation was sent to assist in the rescue of civilians trapped under rubble. Among the rescued was the nine-year-old Israeli citizen Shiran Franco who, along with her family, was trapped for a total of 96 hours. When found, Shiran was severely dehydrated but miraculously survived. In total, there were 12 survivors and 140 recovered bodies.
Operation Barras took place in 2000, when African rebels known as the West Side Boys took 11 British soldiers and a local Sierra Leone liaison officer hostage. Five of these soldiers were rescued via negotiations however, the remaining seven where rescued using Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS). The mission ended with one rescuer dead and 12 wounded with one of the wounded in serious condition. Nevertheless, 25 of the rebel forces were killed and 18 (including their leader ‘Brigadier’ Foday Kallay) were captured.
Moscow Theater Hostage Rescue
On October 23, 2002 40-50 armed Chechen rebel fighters allied to the Islamist militant separatists movement in Chechnya took over the Dubrovka Theater. Led by Movsar Barayev, the rebels held 850 hostages and demanded the withdrawal of the Russian forces from Chechnya. The rescue operation was executed by Russian Spetsnaz forces who fed an unknown chemical agent into the theaters ventilation system before storming in. This agent however adversely affected and killed 130 of the hostages. Nevertheless, all 40 of the rebels were killed.
Beslan School Hostage Rescue
On September 1, 2004 at School Number One (SNO) in Beslan, 1,100 people were taken hostages by the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs Group. Russian security forces stormed the building using tanks and thermobaric rockets. This rescue operation turned out to be bloody as more than 330 people were killed, about half of them children.
Rescue of Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs
In 2012, the U.S. special operations team known as SEAL Team Six set out on a mission to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs. The doctor was kidnapped by the Taliban outside Kabul, Afghanistan and was not freed until December 2012. Unfortunately, this mission left one SEAL dead.
Rescue of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted
U.S. Special Forces SEAL Team Six flew to Somalia to rescue Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted who were taken hostage by pirates. The rescue operation freed both hostages unharmed and killed all nine of the Somali pirates.
Nigeria Rescue Mission
The SBS Team, 12 Royal Marines, and Nigerian Forces set out on a daring mission in Nigeria to rescue Briton Chris McManus and his Italian colleague Franco Lamotianara from the hands of Al Qaeda. The lives of the two hostages were considered to be in mortal danger, so the three teams had no choice but to launch their daring raid. The troops stormed the compound but sadly the terrorists had already executed the innocent captives before they could be freed.
France Hostage Rescue Mission
This failed bid to free Denis Allex, a French hostage in south Somalia from Islamists left two French soldiers and 17 terrorists killed on January 2013. The operation was launched by the DGSE secret service of France and was sparked by the “intransigence” of the Islam terrorists who refused to negotiate. The soldiers were praised for their remarkable work.
Operation Magic Carpet
Operation Magic Carpet refers to the rescue of a community of Yemenite Jews from oppression and destruction. From June 1949 to September 1950, about 49,000 Jews were transported to Israel by British and American transport planes by making about 380 flights from Aden. The operation was carried out in secrecy and it was not made public until several months after it was over.
Operation Eagle Claw
The Operation Eagle Claw happened in 1979, when the Delta Force and Army Rangers attempted to rescue 53 Americans who were captured and held in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The Delta Force and Army Rangers failed after their helicopters had been caught by an unforeseen sandstorm, and a mid-air collision took place between one of their helicopters and a plane. The rescue was generally a failure, but it paved the way for several changes in military operations in the U.S.
Operation Prime Chance
The Operation Prime Chance was the ongoing Navy SEALs rescue, safeguard and protection of the U.S. oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq War. Although this doesn’t describe a specific rescue mission in particular, it was an effective deterrent and involved some of the most advanced tracking and missile technology in the world.
The Rescue of Kurt Muse
Operation Acid Gambit was the original plan to rescue Kurt Muse, an American civilian who was arrested in Panama for his involvement in the setting up of covert anti-Noriega radio transmissions in the country. The plan did not materialize until Operation Just Clause entered the scene in December 1989, when delta operators invaded the prison cells through their roofs and retrieved Muse.
Operation Gothic Serpent
What started out as a Somalian humanitarian effort quickly escalated into a hostile situation in which 24 UN soldiers died. The hostile ordeal resulted in the destruction of two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, leaving its crew trapped inside a kill zone. In spite of the fact that two Delta soldiers were killed and one more captured, American soldiers where eventually rescued by an American, Pakistani and Malaysian military convoy in what is considered one of the most intensive close combat skirmishes since the Vietnam War.
Operation Urgent Fury
Operation Urgent Fury took place in 1983, when Delta Force attempted to break into the Grenadian prison to rescue all of its imprisoned political figures. However, the Grenadian military thwarted the mission by firing at the Delta Force helicopters forcing the Delta Force to abort the mission.
Gran Sasso Raid
Gran Sasso Raid, more commonly known as the Operation Eliche, was the rescue of Italian director Benito Mussolini during World War II. Upon the orders of Adolf Hitler, the rescue was done on July 24 and 25, 1943 while Mussolini was being transported by his captors in Italy. Troopers overwhelmed his captors, rescuing Mussolini and protecting him until he was able to get on the aircraft and escape.
The Rescue of Jessica Lynch
In 2003, the Joint Special Forces composed of the Marines, Army Rangers and Navy SEALS rescued a 19-year old Private First Class named Jessica Lynch who was captured as part of a convoy in March 2003. This became one of the first major controversies of the Iraq War.
Operation Red Wings
In 2005, the SEALs went to the Kunar Province, Afghanistan to neutralize Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. While on route the SEAL Team was confronted by 200 Afghan fighters. Seven helicopters tried to rescue the SEALs but they failed resulting in the greatest single loss of life for the Naval Special Forces since World War II.
The Rescue of Roger Locher
On June 2, 1972, the commander of the 7th Air Force cancelled the entire strike mission set for Hanoi to rescue Roger Locher. The direct task force involved 119 aircrafts, including helicopters, bombers and tankers. The commanding officers had recognized that the one thing keeping the troops motivated was the certainty that if they were shot down they would do everything in their power to rescue them.
Operation Magic Fire
Operation Magic Fire happened in 1977 and involved the rescue of 84 passengers and five-flight crew members held hostage aboard a Boeing 737 by four members of the Palestinian terrorist organization known as Commando Martyr Halime. It was a four day hijacking ordeal that ended in seven minutes thanks to Germany’s GSG 9 Commandos who rescued the hostages, killed three of the terrorists, and captured the fourth.
On July 2, 2008, Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and several other captives were rescued from the Marxist-Leninist guerilla organization FARC. The operation was executed so smoothly that not a single shot was fired during the rescue.
Considered as the gold standard of hostage rescue missions, Operation Entebbe started on June 27, 1976, when an Air France flight was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. On July 4, 1976, the assault team led by the elite Special Forces Sayeret Matkal carried out the daring rescue mission that saved 256 hostages and killed all eight hijackers.
In 1980, some Arab separatists who claimed to be the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan captured the Iranian Embassy in London, holding at least 22 Iranian hostages. In a rescue attempt the British Special Air Services stormed the building firing shots. Some of the hostages were killed in the process but the majority of them were saved.
On May 8, 1972, four Palestinians from the terrorist organization Black September hijacked a Belgian flight to demand for the release of 315 Palestinian prisoners. In response, Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan ordered a rescue mission wherein 16 commandos disguised themselves as technicians, infiltrated the plane and killed two hijackers while capturing the other two. All hostages were saved, except for one.
Operation Solomon happened on January 5, 1985, after the termination of Operation Moses due to a media leak. The IDF went on a flash aerial operation to transfer almost 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel whose lives were now in danger. In order to evacuate the Ethiopians within 34 hours, 30 airlines and one cargo aircraft where utilized in the operation.