BY Peter Bradley Iran 7(?)


50 years ago, on June 5th, 1967 I, Pamela Spencer, Henry Stevenson, and other returning Iran Volunteers whom I’m too old to remember, were in Beirut Lebanon when the so-called “6-Day War” broke out. I came down stairs from my hotel room the morning of June 5th and saw Pam checking in. She told me about the start of the war.


I turned around and went back upstairs and packed 2 bags. One was a bag to be checked, the other was a small carry-on that airlines allowed in those days. In the latter, I put all my money, passport, tickets, camera, a change of underwear and socks. I carried that with me for the next two days in case I needed to run for it.


At Pam’s suggestion, the two of us then walked down to the American Embassy the tell them where we were. The next two days all of us walked around listening to rumors and trying to get information from the Voice of America (VOA) which didn’t seem to know its ass from its elbow and the BBC which seemed to know everything.


When the news and rumors turned bad for the Arabs, a mob gathered in front of embassy. I was in my hotel room and could hear the gun shots from the direction of the Embassy. I could also see the very frightened security guard at the A.I.D. Library down the street from the hotel, peeking around the corner with his pistol drawn, looking down in the direction of the Embassy.


I remember we were all eating dinner at a restaurant the evening of the 6th (walking at night had become quite the adventure because of black out restrictions) when one of our number came in with instructions from the embassy to report to American University of Beirut (aka AUB) for evacuation.


So we all trundled down to the gate in the wall surrounding AUB dragging our luggage (wheeled bags were years away). We got the Lebanese Army guard to let us in and came upon hundreds of Americans of all ages, shapes and sizes sitting around. Every now and then, the people in charge would read off a list of names and tell them to report to busses which would take them to the airport to fly to various places. My memory tells me most were sent to Ankara. I waited until dawn was breaking to hear my name called. It was part of an exceptionally large group. We were taken down to the port in a convoy of busses with army jeeps with 30 caliber machine guns mounted in the back and soldiers on each bus armed with sub machine guns. We left Beirut on an American freighter as “deck cargo” (I kid you not) so they wouldn’t be required to feed us. We bummed food from rich American oil company families who were picnicking on the hold hatch covers. We docked a few hours later at Famagusta Cyprus. It was an experience the essence of which, I’ve not forgotten. I’d be interested to hear what others remember I might be wrong about or have forgotten.