What happened to Iran Air Flight 655?
Three decades ago, 290 innocent people lost their lives after a U.S. Navy ship gunned down a passenger plane in Iran.
STRAIT OF HORMUZ, IRAN — July 3, 2019 marks the 31st anniversary of a largely forgotten atrocity carried out and then covered up by the United States - the U.S. Navy shootdown of a civilian airliner in Iran.
"The Washington Post reports that Iran Air Flight 655 took off on the morning of July 3, 1988 from Bandar Abbas International Airport, for what would have been a 28-minute flight to Dubai."
"At the time, U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes was pursuing Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf, and entered Iranian territorial waters to open fire."
"The Vincennes detected the Iran Air aircraft as it was climbing 12,000 feet and transmitting IFF squawks in Mode 3, a signal that identified it as a civilian aircraft."
"Despite this, the Vincennes attempted to contact the plane on the military frequency. After receiving no response and supposedly mistaking the airliner for an Iranian F-14 Tomcat, ship captain Will Rogers gave the order to fire two SM-2MR surface-to-air-missiles."
"One of the missiles hit Flight 655, destroying the plane and causing the wreckage to fall into the water below."
"There were no survivors. All 290 passengers on board were killed, including 66 children."
In a 2014 Slate article, former Boston Globe defense correspondent Fred Kaplan claimed American officials told various lies to pin the blame on the Iranian pilot.
During the first press conference on the incident, Admiral William Crowe, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the plane had been descending at a high speed and was headed directly for the Vincennes.
A 53-page incident report issued by the Pentagon in August 1988 found that almost all the initial details cited by senior officials to blame the pilot were wrong. Even so, it concluded that Rogers and his officers acted properly.
Iran maintains that the shooting was done deliberately, and later sued the U.S. in the International Court of Justice.
America never formally apologized, expressing only 'deep regret.' It did, however, agree on a settlement with Iran, paying $131.8 million in compensation, $61.8 million of which went to the victims' families.
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