U.S. Men Killed in Ambush - May 21, 1975

By Andrew Borowiec, special to the Washington Post.

Iran leftists Gun Down Two A.F. Officers.

Tehran, May 21, 1975 – left Wing opposnents of the Iranian government struck at the American military presence in this country today, killing two senior U.S. air force officers in a daring ambush. A clandestine group calling itself the Iranian people’s fighter organization claimed credit for the attack, which is said was an act of reprisal for the government’s execution “innocent prisoners.” An official government statement charged that the attack was inspired from abroad and promised to track down the culprits. The prime minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda promptly conveyed condolences to the families.

The dead were Col. Paul Schaffer, 45, of Dayton, Ohio, and Lt. Col. Jack Turner, also 45, of Carbondale, Ill. Both officers were married; Schaefer had two children and Turner had three. According to an embassy statement, the two officers were being driven to work in the northern section of Iran when the ambush took place. A car blocked the path of their vehicle while another rammed it form behind. Three gunmen surged out, shouting at the Iranian driver of the American car to lie down and opened fire at point blank range, then they drove off in a third car leaving a propaganda leaflet with the two dead officers in the bloodstained car.

The leaflet was promptly seized by the investigating authorities. Six hours after the attack, an anonymous woman called reporters with a message she said was from those who aranged the ambush. In the presence of the traitor Shah, the Iranian revolutionaries for being executed. “ she read over the telephone in a trembling voice. “what we did this morning was in response to the Shah’s action against innocent prisoners. We’re not going to leave the atrocities of the traitor Shah without response.”

The statement was apparently a reference to the shooting of nine prisoners last month as they were being transferred from one prison to another. An official statement at the time said the nine were mowed down when they tried to escape. A government statement after the ambush said that the “evil inspiration” for the act came “from outside Iran’s borders and serves anti – Iranian interests.”

In 1972 U.S. Air Force general Harold L. Price was wounded; the next year U.S. Army Colonel Luis Hawkins was fatally shot. Both were members of the U.S. advisory group in Iran. The United States now has almost 8,000 military men assigned in Iran. There are 18,000 Americans living in Iran, a nation of 30 million. [in Washington, pentagon sources said Shaffer was the director of plans and policies section, and that Turner was on the the personal staff of the AID mission, UPI reported. The sources said neither man was involved and intelligence work.

[for the last two years Iran has been the principle foreign buyer of American weapons. Last year the Shah ordered $3.8 billion worth of weapons or 45% of all the arms of the United States sold that year.]

The Iranian people’s fighter organization consists mainly of small terrorist cells. It is believed to be on the fringes of the country’s candidate opposition, which primarily expresses itself through student protests. Today’s ambush is not expected to have wide ranging repercussions in Iran. A Marxist – an artist underground has been active in Iran for several years. About 200 members of the underground have been killed in battles with police were executed by firing squads. The Shah said during his recent visit to Washington that about 3000 of them are in jail. I ranian students held several protest demonstrations during the Shah’s visit.




  • U.S. Men Killed in Ambush - May 21, 1975

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