It was a low point for the Carter administration in 1980 -- but a wake up call for the Pentagon that is now credited with victories in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq -- and other hotspots around the world.
Operation Eagle Claw was a mission to rescue the American hostages held in Iran. It was launched with poor intelligence, inadequate resources, limited communication, and no dress rehersal.
At a refueling stop in the Iranian desert, a Navy helicopter collided on the ground with an Air Force tanker. Five Airmen and three Marines died.
It's now credited with spurring the military -- focused at the time on the Soviet Union -- to take terrorism more seriously. And to develop plans to deal with terrorism scenarios. (Philadelphia Inquirer)