The Downing of Iran Air Flight 655
The USS Vincennes “Accident” That Took 290 Innocent Lives

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| February 1, 2009       

bodies of the victims On July 3, 1988, an Iranian passenger plane on a routine flight was blown out of the sky by a U.S. Navy warship in Iranian territorial waters. All 290 people on board Iran Air Flight 655 were killed, 66 of whom were children below the age of 12.

President Ronald Reagan expressed regret for the tragedy, which the U.S. military claimed was an “accident”, yet the crew of the USS Vincennes warship was subsequently awarded combat-action ribbons, and its Commander was specially commended by the Navy with a medal for “heroic achievement”.

The Iranian government, who called it a “massacre”, and a blatant “cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder”, memorialized the atrocity on a postage stamp, and held large public rallies denouncing the crime.

diagram of planes The U.S. Navy claimed that they mistook the Iranian airbus for an F-14 fighter plane when they fired two missiles at it [See diagram at right for a comparison between the two aircraft]. Asked by reporters outside the White House about Iran’s allegation that the USS Vincennes was too technically advanced to make such a huge mistake, Reagan fumed, “Well, I don’t go by what the Iranians say, ever”.

In response to pressure over the incident, Reagan’s Vice President George H.W. Bush famously vowed, “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”

George Bush reacts to Iran Air incident   

stamp Reagan’s former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Senator Jim Webb, himself a decorated veteran of the Navy and Marines, has called the incident an example of the United States’ “overly aggressive” relationship with Iran.

For more info, see the thorough joint investigation of the Pentagon's cover-up of the crime by Newsweek magazine and ABC News Nightline-
Sea of Lies: The Inside Story Of How An American Naval Vessel Blundered Into An Attack On Iran Air Flight 655 At The Height Of Tensions During The Iran-Iraq War-And How The Pentagon Tried To Cover Its Tracks After 290 Innocent Civilians Died

July 3, 2008

Taken Question on Iran Air Flight 655

U.S. expresses regret and sympathy to the families of the deceased


Office of the Spokesman

July 2, 2008


Iran Air Flight 655

Question: Does the State Department have anything to say on the 20th Anniversary of the accidental downing of an Iran Air flight?

Answer: The accidental shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 was a terrible human tragedy, and U.S. officials at the time expressed our deep regret over the tragic loss of life. We would certainly renew our expression of sympathy and condolences to the families of the deceased who perished in the tragedy.

Related links:

Remembering the Victims of Iran Air Flight 655

US Institute of Peace Corrects “Iran Primer” Errors... Sort Of

Abadan: The First Oil Crisis [BBC Timewatch Video]

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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