The 328th of ‘Night of Memorials’ - 1

Narrating the First Hours of the War

By Iranian Oral History Website
Translated By: Zahra Hosseinian


Narrating the memories of the holy defense, the 328th ‘Night of Memorials’ was performed by Davoud Salehi on Thursday, September 23, 2021, in the tomb of the anonymous martyrs of the Hozeh Honari. Amir Jahangir Ibn Yamin and Timsar Akbar Zamani shared their memories in this meeting.

At the beginning of his speech, the presenter commemorated the martyrs of the holy defense and the martyrs of Operation Kaman 99 as well as General Mansour Nazerian, Homayoun Shoghi, Ghaffar Raminfar, Gholam Hossein Orouji, Bahram Eshghipour, Abbas Islaminia, Touraj Yousof, and Alimorad Jahanshahloo. “Immediately after the sudden attack of Iraq on Iran,” he said, “fighters flew from Iran toward Iraq and bombed the flight route of Basra airport in difficult conditions. This operation was very difficult and complex. The events that took place on the return from this proud operation can be heard in the memories narrated in this meeting.” Then the presenter invited the first narrator, Amir Jahangir Ibn Yamin to share his memories.

After commemorating the martyrs of the imposed war, POWs, and warriors, the first narrator said: “Today, I’ll tell you memories about the operation carried out in Bushehr base on September 22, 1980. Given that this operation took place under certain circumstances, I should explain the situation of the Air Force on those days. As you know, the armed forces are the security guarantor and the pride of every nation. Before the revolution, we had reached a level of combat readiness of personnel and equipment that our neighboring countries did not dare to think about attacking us. After the revolution, the same situation occurred in Iran that arises in any revolution, and one of the goals of the enemy was to empty the armed forces, especially the air force, of qualified forces. The Air Force is one of the strongest and the most specialized forces in all nations because they are well-trained and need to react very quickly to the enemy in the battle. Therefore, from the beginning of the revolution until the occurrence of the imposed war, which lasted about 19 months, the enemies used all the tricks to take as much combat power as they could from us, but the main body of the army and the air force remained the same.”

The narrator continued: “After Iraq invaded the country and about 12 of our bases in September 1980, we were able to respond very quickly within two hours. Many may not know, but the first operation carried out by the Air Force was on September 23, 1980. I served then as a regular pilot in Bushehr base. It was a hot summer and Bushehr locates in a tropical region. Usually, all families of military were preparing their children to go to school these days. At the bases in the south of our country, families of military usually went to their hometowns and came back a few days before the schools opened. On September 31, pilots were in flight battalions most of the time, especially when we heard that Iraq has sent its troops to the border and may make a move. But because of limitations in the logistic, aircraft parts, as well as sanctions, we could not fly every day as we used to. In the past, our pilots flew one to three times a day, but at that time there were far fewer flights due to restrictions. Perhaps relying on this issue, the Saddamists thought that the air force, especially the army, did not have enough combat capability to fight back.”

Amir Ibn Yamin added: “by the way, on that day, September 22, at around 2 pm, our 12 airports and bases were attacked simultaneously. Usually, one of the goals at the beginning of any war is to destroy the airports, hangars, and points where guard the aircraft so that, they can gain air superiority over the enemy and be able to carry out more operations in the following days. Fortunately, due to the bad training that the Iraqi Air Force had received, or their fear, or anything else, they failed in performing a good operation neither in our base nor in any of the bases. For this reason, all the pilots went to the command post[1] and after an hour, the base commander, the late Major Daadpey informed us that the Air Force headquarters had ordered us to fight against the Iraqis and to attack one of their bases that we already knew in what condition it was. All the pilots were ready that day, but the lot fell on me to carry out the operation as the commander of a four-flight squad.”

The narrator continued: “Those, who have served in the bases, know that because their families live in the government-leased houses, this bombing had disturbed the atmosphere and worried everyone. As we were all irritated, we decided to fight against the Iraqis as soon as possible. Of course, in operational planning, we need to know the enemy's formation and what tactics to use; but, since we had very little information after the revolution, we tried to plan the operation based on our assumptions.”

The narrator added: “I and eight comrades came to the conclusion that to carry out this operation with 4 aircrafts. Fortunately, everyone was eager to do so. We had been in the flight battalion since morning and had not gone home. We did not even have a chance to say goodbye to our families. Of course, our brave commander told me that if the comrades wanted to go and say goodbye, there was no problem; we have a quarter of an hour, but no one was willing to go. All had agreed that we should do this mission quickly, and we boarded the aircraft very determined and strong. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon, we got ready and went to the runway, and flew to Iraq. To be safe from enemy radars, we had to fly low. Luckily, we did not encounter any problems along the route, but we expected anything to happen. Since we had not started the war, they were ready and knew that we will react to their attack. Approaching the Abadan border and trying to enter the Iraqi territory, we saw on the radar system that they watched us and aimed their missiles at us, but none of these reasons led us to make another decision or want to go back and to show weakness. We were all determined to fight back. Tactically, we did our ammunition preparation and informed comrades that we had to get ready and be quick. We flew at an altitude of 30 or 40 meters above the ground and maybe at speeds above 1000 kilometers.”



Ibn Yamin continued: “In the tactics, we used at that time, we had to set a point and soar to the target and then dive towards it. This is called a pop-up. We had to keep flying from about seven or eight miles to the target, namely Shoaibiya base, which was one of their powerful bases. We aimed to fire their runways and aircrafts. We saw that they had made a wall of fire, and their bullets exploded in the air. I made the last flight briefing to my comrades by radio, and fortunately, all the preparations for what we wanted to do, were done correctly. With the first dive on the runway of Shoaibiya Airport in Iraq, I dropped all the bombs, and they hit the target. The other comrades also fired missiles and anti-aircraft, and we did not make disruption for each other.”

The narrator went on: “It is a maneuver in which when we pilots bomb the target, we have to fly near to the ground so that we can escape from shooting. In one of these flights, my aircraft was fired and dived sharply toward the ground, and clouds of dust were sent up to the extent that my comrades, who had witnessed this scene, thought that I had fallen. Other comrades did the same and we flew towards our borders, but we did not hear about each other until we entered our borders. The aircraft of mine and one of my comrades had been damaged, but it was decided to return them to the base as safely as possible. We went on and realized that we were all safe and sound. We were happy to accomplish the mission well.”

The narrator said: “In the meantime, another squad of Iraqi fighters had come and bombed Khark Island. A black smoke had arisen that saddened us. We supposed that we get involved with them as well, but neither we nor they had enough fuel. Luckily, we did not collided, because their radar had warned them to change route. Returning to our base, our anti-aircraft began firing at us. This was ordinary, because it was the first day of the war and only two hours had passed yet. They thought we were enemy. Twenty minutes after we flew around the airport, they realized that we were insiders.”

The narrator went on: “My aircraft had badly damaged. A comrade of mine, who was flying over the base as an air patrol, told me that the aircraft had badly damaged and if it is possible, I jump out and leave the aircraft. I consulted with comrade who was with me…he later martyred, may God have mercy on him…, and we decided to fly as far as possible until it was unsafe; then we will jump out.  Near the airport, the aircraft's wheels did not work due to damage and the failure of its hydraulic system; so, we decided to land without using them. We informed the person in charge of the Ghafour Jedi airport tower that we land without using the wheels.”

The narrator continued: “We flew with an F4-aircraft.[2] This aircraft has an engaging hook[3] which is installed on its rare, and when the aircraft is landing, this hook holds it. When the hydraulic system of an aircraft does not work, the aircraft becomes like a car without brakes, so many commands are out of control. The conditions were not normal, so we were told that we could not use the hook, and we should land without it. At the last moments, the pneumatic system, which works with air pressure, ran, and the wheel opened, and we landed, but we had no control over the runway. After landing, we got out of the runway and went to the dirt shoulder. Then we entered the runway again and stopped. Firefighters and other related in-charge persons arrived at the aircraft. We got off safely and were welcomed by them. The technical staff who came to welcome us noticed that something was stuck under the aircraft wing. I was very tired and did not notice it. I saw that an Iraqi 'No-entry' traffic sign was stuck on the wing! It was as if when I flew very close to the ground, the aircraft hit the sign and it was stuck in the same place as the bomb was carried.”

At the end of his speech, the narrator said: “We are happy to dispel the thoughts of the Saddamists that our army is no longer capable of fighting. Our history has shown that we may have been hurt, but we have never failed. After that, the Air Force Headquarters presented the plan of Operation Kaman 99. The ‘Kaman’ refers to ‘Arash Kamangir’[4], and ‘99’ was the flight instruction page that we were ordered to do. It is true that our children did not go to school, but their fathers went and sacrificed and were martyred.”


At the end of this meeting, the presenter said: “I read somewhere that the Air Force is a combination of love and wisdom, and pilots should have both of these in order to be able to defend their homeland. Today, we see both in the beautiful feelings of Amir Ibn Yamin and the words of Martyr Babaei’s wife, which is both love and rationality.”


[1] It is where the operations are planned and commands are issued.

[2] The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, better known as the Phantom, is a twin-engine, two-pilot, two-stroke fighter-bomber capable of operating in all weather conditions, and is considered one of the best fighters of the twentieth century.

[3] Hook

[4]. Arash the Archer (Persian: آرش کمانگیر‎ Āraš-e Kamāngīr) is a heroic archer-figure of Iranian mythology.

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