Shocking Successes that Came from Stressful Situations in History
Shocking Successes that Came from Stressful Situations in History

Shocking Successes that Came from Stressful Situations in History

Khalid Elhassan - April 30, 2021

Shocking Successes that Came from Stressful Situations in History
Terminal building of Entebbe airport, where the hostages were held. Wikimedia

2. A Daring Hostage Rescue Raid

In the early hours of July 4, 1976, Israeli special forces carried out a daring raid at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. The goal was to spring hostages taken from an Air France jetliner that had been commandeered on June 27th. While en route from Tel Aviv to Paris, after a stopover in Athens, the airplane was boarded by four hijackers. Two belonged to a breakaway faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and two were from a German Red Army Faction revolutionary cell. They seized the jetliner and diverted it to Uganda, whose president, Idi Amin, was sympathetic to their cause.

At Entebbe, the hijackers removed the passengers to a disused airport terminal building. There, they were joined by three more accomplices. After sifting through the passengers’ passports, the hijackers released those who were neither Israeli nor Jewish. They kept as hostages 94 who were, plus 12 members of the Air France aircrew. Then they made their demands: in exchange for freeing the hostages, the hijackers demanded the release of 40 prisoners held in Israel, plus another 13 held in other countries.

Shocking Successes that Came from Stressful Situations in History
Rescued hostages arriving in Israel. Wikimedia

1. A Pressure Cooker Hostage Situation

As the days passed and the prisoners were not released, the hijackers grew more strident. The pressure mounted on the Israeli authorities, as the hijackers vowed to kill the hostages if their demands were not met. Fortunately for the Israelis, an Israeli engineer who had worked with Idi Amin in the 1960s had blueprints of the Entebbe terminal building where the hostages were held. He handed them to the authorities, who used them to plan a rescue mission. On the night of July 3rd, 1976, 100 Israeli special forces boarded C-130 cargo planes and, escorted by F-4 Phantoms, took off on a 2500-mile flight to Uganda.

Shocking Successes that Came from Stressful Situations in History
Israeli special forces returning from the Entebbe Raid. IDF

Within 90 minutes of touching down at Entebbe, the commandos had killed all seven hostage-takers, along with about forty-five Ugandan soldiers. They also destroyed 30 Ugandan jets at the airport. The cost was one commando killed and five wounded, plus three hostages dead and ten wounded. Commandos and hostages then boarded the C-130 transports for a short flight to Nairobi, Kenya. There, the planes refueled and the wounded were taken to an awaiting hospital plane, before all flew back to a rapturous welcome in Israel.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Chun, Clayton K.S. – The Doolittle Raid 1942: America’s First Strike Back at Japan (2006)

Drabkin, Artem – The Red Air Force at War: Barbarossa and the Retreat to Moscow (2007)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Entebbe Raid

Encyclopedia Britannica – John Glenn

Glenn, John – John Glenn: A Memoir (1999)

Gordon, Yefim, and Khazanov, Dmitri – Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War, Volume 2: Twin-Engined Fighters, Attack Aircraft and Bombers (2006)

History Collection – Last Words: 10 Memorable Dying Statements From Famous Figures

History of War – Thomas, Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby c. 1433 – 1504

Hornfischer, James D. – The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the US Navy’s Finest Hour (2005)

Library of Congress – Bill Mauldin Beyond Willie and Joe

Mauldin, Bill – Up Front (1945)

Naval History and Heritage Command – Doolittle Raid

New Atlas – Curta Calculator: The Mechanical Marvel Born in a Nazi Death Camp

Smith, Peter C. – The Petlyakov Pe-2: Stalin’s Successful Red Air Force Light Bomber (2020)

United States Marine Corps History Division – Colonel John Glenn, Jr.

Wikipedia – Curt Herzstark

Wikipedia – Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Wikipedia – Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby

Wolfe, Tom – The Right Stuff (1979)