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A Day of Terror Recalled

Some who endured the attacks on the embassy and the school later concluded that the lack of a U.S. reaction made the United States look weak. Adam Rice, who as a ninth-grader broke his wrist fleeing protesters at the school, says the lesson of Iran and Pakistan was that those hostile to Americans "can stick them in the eye, and they don't do anything back."

He joined the Army after high school and served in Afghanistan in 2002 as a Special Forces reservist, contributing to a strengthened U.S. posture in the face of attack.


A Pakistani army helicopter hovers over the burning U.S. Embassy in Islamabad during the attack by anti-American demonstrators in 1979. (AP)

_____India - Pakistan Talks_____
India Suggests Greater Autonomy for Kashmir (The Washington Post, Nov 26, 2004)
Bomb Kills Two U.S. Soldiers, Injures One in Afghanistan (The Washington Post, Nov 25, 2004)
Diplomat Joseph J. Sisco Dies at 85; Served as AU President in 1970s (The Washington Post, Nov 24, 2004)
Special Report: India - Pakistan
Primer: The Conflict in Kashmir
___ Photo Gallery ___

The Struggle for Kashmir




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Adults also emerged from Nov. 21 with a new outlook. David C. Fields, who as the embassy's administrative counselor took charge of the staff members in the besieged embassy, has concentrated on security and terrorism ever since. "I often tell people that terrorism is not new; it didn't begin with 9/11. It's been around a long time."

Beginning of the End

By 6:30, the roof had gone quiet. Fields decided they had to get out. The hatch was too damaged to open from the inside. The only alternative was to send men out the door of the vault into the third-floor hallway to reach the roof by another route.

Miller led a handful of Marines and staff members holding shotguns and pistols. The hallway was blackened by smoke and devoid of light. Gas masks afforded them some protection from tear gas but not from the fumes produced by the burning building.

As they stepped out of the vault, felt their way along the hallway and climbed onto the roof, they did not know who might be waiting. They were authorized to shoot. "It was pretty harrowing," Miller says now. It was also the beginning of the end of their ordeal. The demonstrators had all but left the building, although some remained around the compound.

The flames of the burning embassy rose up from the sides of the roof, lighting the night, as Marines and others walked the survivors of the vault to a place where they could descend by ladder to the ground. They breathed deeply in the cool air.

After everyone was out, Miller climbed the ladder and went back into the vault. A few minutes later he reappeared, holding Crowley's body in a fireman's carry across his shoulders. The blood of the dead Marine stained Miller's shirt.

Thanksgiving was somber. A search revealed the burned corpse of Army Warrant Officer Bryan Ellis, 30, who died at his apartment in the compound. Two Pakistani staff members, dead of asphyxiation, were found in the embassy. News reports indicated that two protesters were killed during the previous day's chaos.

Embassy officials made plans to evacuate nonessential personnel, family members and other Americans who wished to leave the country.

At an Air Force boot camp in Texas, it took a young airman named David Miller a couple of days to confirm that the dead did not include his father, Loyd. David Miller, a 1979 graduate of the International School who now lives in Fredericksburg and is a fire-protection consultant, remains influenced by the years he spent in Pakistan.

"I have a lot more sympathy for Muslim people because I lived there," he says. The unrest of Nov. 21, which he experienced at a distance, has helped to cement a bond between him and the people he knew in Islamabad.

"Here in the Washington area, it's a bit different -- there are a lot of us," he says. Miller maintains friendships, attends reunions and participates in a Web forum for alumni of the International School. "It's natural to seek each other out. A lot of people don't understand what we've gone through." They are also less interested in international affairs, in spite of the events of the past few years, he says.

"Most Americans are unequipped to make an opinion" about what happens in the rest of world, Miller adds. "They don't have any information, and they don't have any inclination to get any information. They just don't care. . . . If I care, I call up some people I went to high school with."

The Return Home

On Nov. 23, Beth Rideout flew out of Pakistan on a jumbo jet with about 400 other Americans, many never to return. She was in shock. She could feel others looking at her, the girlfriend of the dead Marine. She kept thinking how weird it was that Steve was flying home with them, except that he was in the hold of the aircraft.

He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. President Jimmy Carter sat next to his mother, Georgine, at the funeral. In an earlier phone call, he told her that Crowley died a hero. White House officials initially credited the Pakistani government with rescuing those in the vault, but Marcia Gauger disputed that assertion. "It was our Marine guards who saved us," she wrote in Time. "Nobody else."

Loyd Miller, now 63, retired from the Marine Corps as a master gunnery sergeant in 1984. He received a medal honoring "exceptionally meritorious conduct" for his defense of the embassy; his detachment was also commended. Today he cares for his wife, a cancer patient, at their home in Fredericksburg.

Rideout, a divorced mother of twins, lives in Traverse City, Mich., and is working toward a degree in social work. She is 42. From time to time, she has wondered what happened to Crowley's class ring.

Georgine Crowley hadn't sent it to Pakistan by the time Steve was killed. She gave it to one of her seven surviving children.

What was not to be, might never have been. Would Rideout have worn Crowley's ring? "I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have," she says.

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.


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