On a dark night in 1977, a dozen Green Berets exited a C-130 aircraft, parachuting into a very different type of war. Aircraft hijackings had become almost commonplace, to the point that Johnny Carson would tell jokes about the phenomena on television. But it was no laughing matter for the Department of Defense, who realized after the Israeli raid on Entebbe that America was woefully unprepared to counter terrorist attacks.
This mission would be different. The Special Forces soldiers guided their MC-3 parachutes toward the ground, but their element became separated in the air, some of the Green Berets landing in the trees. The others set down alongside an airfield, landing inside a thick cloud of fog. Their target lay somewhere through the haze: a commercial aircraft that had been captured by terrorists. On board, there were no hostages, but a black box, a classified encryption device that could not be allowed to fall into enemy hands.
Airfield seizures were really a Ranger mission, but someone had elected to parachute in an entire Special Forces battalion for the operation. The HALO team was an advanced element, inserted ahead of time to secure the aircraft prior to the main assault force arriving. Despite missing a number of team members at the rally point, the Green Berets knew they were quickly approaching their hit time. They had to take down the aircraft and soon.
Armed with suppressed Sten guns, they quietly advanced through the fog. Using the bad weather to their advantage, they were able to slip right between the sentries posted to guard the aircraft. Storming the plane, they quickly secured the black box. Seizing the initiative, the team leader decided to assault the barracks next. It wasn’t part of the plan, but their fellow Green Berets were due to jump onto the airfield in minutes. The enemy resting in the barracks would almost certainly come out and start shooting at the paratroopers once they realized what was happening.