Midshipman H. Ross Perot
Photo courtesy of USNA


On Wings of Eagles – A Tribute to Ross Perot

Billionaire H. Ross Perot died yesterday at the age of 89 after an ultimately unsuccessful fight with leukemia. Perot, is mostly known for his two failed presidential campaigns. There are some who blame him for President H.W. Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton. I am not among them. But that’s not the subject of today’s offering. Ross Perot was much more than an “eccentric” billionaire turned politician.

Perot is also a legend in American Military circles. We’ve all heard the old adage: There are 3 types of people; Those Who Make Things Happen, Those Who Watch Things Happen, and Those Who Wonder What Happened. Perot wasn’t someone who things happened to, or who continually wondered, “What happened?” He made things happen.

Today during his morning show, David Webb and I had a conversation about Operation Hotfoot, Ross Perot’s private, personally funded operation to rescue two of his executives from an Iranian prison, just days before the return of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian revolution—a revolution that resulted in the imprisonment of 52 American hostages by the revolutionary “government.”

When Perot learned that two of his executives had been jailed on trumped up charges, he immediately began exploring all avenues to gain their release, both inside government channels and out. Ultimately, he ended up hiring a U.S. Army Special Forces legend, retired Colonel Arthur “Bull” Simons, to train some of his employees who had volunteered to help break the two prisoners out.

Simons put the team through a rigorous training regimen at Perot’s weekend place near Dallas, Texas. The training and rehearsals paid off during the operation, when unforeseen circumstances required decisions and changes on the fly.

Without going into egregious detail, Operation Hotfoot was a resounding success. Perot’s team, led by Colonel Simons, was able to rescue the two jailed employees and get them across the border into Turkey and ultimately back to the United States…without firing a shot. You can find what I consider the best account of this operation in Ken Follett’s book, “On Wings of Eagles.”

Mr. Webb wrapped up the segment declaring Ross Perot as “larger than life.” He’s right. H. Ross Perot, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, understood what any military commander knows; Your subordinates/employees are more than just that, they are your personal responsibility.

During a post rescue, Associated Press Interview, Paul Chiapparone, one of the two Perot employees held by the Iranians said, “Ross came to the prison one day and said, ‘We’re going to get you out.’” Chiapparone then pointedly asked the reporter, “How many CEOs would do that today?”

Indeed.

You can find the David Webb Show on Sirius XM, Channel 125, M-F 9:00-12:00AM EST.

Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

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