The influential pro-Khamenei Iranian newspaper Kayhan published in its English-language edition on July 4 a Viewpoint reminding readers of the, depending on your perspective, U.S. terrorist attack or flagrantly irresponsible U.S. mistake in which the U.S. shot down an Iranian airliner and then unbelievably rewarded the responsible soldiers. Even if the official interpretation of the U.S. Government is believed, this remains a tragedy far worse than the Iranian kidnapping of American diplomats a decade earlier and an event that must be confronted by Washington to clear the air with Iran. The festering of this wound can only poison bilateral relations.
On July 3rd 1988, faced with total loss of prestige in the Middle East, the US military was ordered to take matters into its own hands.
A civilian Iran Air Airbus A300B2 was flying from Bandar Abbas , Iran , to Dubai , UAE, with 290 passengers and crew aboard. There were also 66 children aboard flight IR655.
The flight was making its way –within Iranian airspace- over the Strait of Hormuz toward its final destination unaware of the criminal minds at work onboard the U.S. Navy’s guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. The US warship was illegally traversing the Iranian territorial waters.
The Iran Air airliner was suddenly blown out of the sky by missiles fired from the US warship.
The disaster was the seventh among the deadliest airliner fatalities. It had the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Indian Ocean and the highest death toll of any incident involving an Airbus A300 anywhere in the world.
The US government claimed that the crew had mistakenly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter. The crew onboard Vincennes was operating the most sophisticated sensors known to the world. There is no way on earth they could have mistaken an Airbus airliner’s massive radar signature for an attacking F-14.
The cowards onboard Vincennes were awarded Combat Action Ribbons for having actively participated in ground or surface combat, and the captain received the Legion of Merit.
The Iranian government maintains to this day that the Vincennes knowingly shot down the civilian aircraft.