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Steven Crowley was blonde, 6'5" tall and was from Port Jefferson Station, New York. He attended Comsewogue High School where he graduated in 1977. While attending Comsewogue he participated in varsity Cross Country and Track & Field. Individuals who knew him described him as chivalrous and cordial. A few months prior to his death, Crowley had begun dating Beth Rideout, the 17-year-old president of the student body at the International School in Islamabad.
Siege Of The Embassy
On November 20, 1979, a Saudi Arabian Islamic zealot group led a takeover of the Mosque at Mecca. Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini immediately claimed that Americans were behind the attack on Islam's holiest place, and this claim was repeated in media reports the morning of November 21.
On the afternoon of November 21, 1979, Pakistani students, enraged by a radio report claiming that the U.S. had bombed Islam's holy site at Mecca, stormed the U.S. Embassy at Islamabad.
At the time of the attack, Steven Crowley was a corporal assigned to the Marine Security Guard Battalion Detachment in Islamabad. Police assigned to protect the Embassy were driven back by rioters, who used a battering ram to break down the brick column holding the gate to the Embassy. When the gate fell, the mob surged onto the Embassy grounds.
Shots were fired, and stones and other missiles began to break the building's windows. Crowley, who was posted on the roof of the Embassy to assess the demonstration, was shot by a sniper just above his left ear and was brought back into the building by two of his colleagues.
As the rioters swarmed towards the chancery doors, the embassy staff took shelter in a steel-encased, windowless vault on the top floor of the building, which the rioters had set on fire.
Crowley was in another part of the vault under the care of Fran Fields, a registered nurse and the wife of Administrative Counselor Dave Fields. While in the vault, the staff members organized themselves into groups by blood type similar to Crowley's in case they were to be rescued and a transfusion were needed. This did not end up being necessary as Crowley never regained consciousness.
As the siege dragged on throughout the day, Political Counselor Herbert G. Hagerty was informed that Corporal Crowley had died at 3:55 PM. Fearing that the news would set off a panic inside the vault, Hagerty and others declined to inform the rest of the staff.
At 5 PM, as the sun dropped and temperatures began to cool, the rioters began to disperse. After ensuring that it was safe to leave the vault, the staff members climbed out and onto the roof of the embassy. The MSG Detachment Commander, Gunnery Sergeant Lloyd Miller, informed the staff that he was not going to leave his dead Marine in the building. Miller climbed up to the auditorium roof, then onto the main roof and to the hatch of the vault. Miller emerged a few moments later and slowly climbed down the ladder, rung by rung, with the body of Corporal Crowley over his shoulder in a fireman's carry.
On November 23, 400 shocked diplomats flew out of Pakistan on a commercial jet with the body of Crowley in the hold of the aircraft. U.S. President Jimmy Carter sat next to Crowley's mother, Georgine, at his funeral in Arlington.
In a search of the embassy grounds after order had been restored, at least another six casualties were confirmed: one American and two Pakistani staff members, a U.S. Army soldier, and two rioters.
The Pakistani government would later pay the U.S. government $121 million to rebuild the Embassy compound after failing to prevent the riot. Corporal Crowley was posthumously promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Crowley was also awarded the Bronze Star with "V" device and a Purple Heart. On November 30, 2006, a plaque and classroom were dedicated to Crowley at the Marine Security Guard School in Quantico, VA.
- 1983 Beirut barracks bombing
- US-Pakistan relations
- 1979 U.S. embassy burning in Islamabad
- Marine Security Guard
- "Embassies Under Siege: Personal Accounts By Diplomats On The Front Line", edited by Joseph G. Sullivan, 1996
- Marine Corps Base Quantico Article On Classroom Dedication