The images were stark and startling after the debacle at Desert One in Iran on April 24, 1980, 37 years ago today. An incinerated C-130 aircraft and six RH-53 helicopters left with bodies burned and strewn about spoke of the failure of the United States to rescue the 52 diplomats and Embassy personnel held in Tehran, Iran.

The story began more than 170 days prior when on November 4, 1979, when Iranian militant students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats hostage. Then President Jimmy Carter put into motion the plan that would use the US’ new hostage rescue force “Delta Force” into action.

The ultimate mission failure would generate much-needed lessons learned to pave the way for dedicated special operations air assets and a new Special Operations command structure that we know today.

So how exactly did this dark day in US Special Operations history change things for the better for the troops that followed?