Retired Lt. L. Bruce Laingen, SC, USN, 96, passed away on July 15, 2019.
Laingen served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946 as a Supply Corps officer. He received his bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. Laignen also attended Wellesley College and the University of Dubuque for his officer and general naval instruction. During World War II he served as a Supply and Disbursing officer on a Landing Ship Medium. Laingen served as the U.S. Ambassador to Malta from 1977 to 1979. In mid-1979, he returned to Iran for a second tour as chargé d’affaires of the American Embassy before being one of 52 held hostage in the Iran hostage crisis that began November 4, 1979. Laingen, along with a deputy and security officer, spent most of the hostage crisis inside a diplomatic reception room at the Foreign Ministry office, where they were more or less untouched. Laingen spent months slipping secret messages to his superiors in Washington via a visiting Swiss envoy, relaying insights on the situation in Iran while trying to spur his release and that of his staff.
In January, Laingen and his two American colleagues were taken to a prison in Tehran, where they spent the final months of their stay in solitary confinement while a team of negotiators worked to release the hostages. All 52 hostages were eventually released on January 20, 1981.