This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series
The mission to capture Saddam Hussein was named after a Patrick Swayze movie.
Operation Red Dawn took its title from the 1984 film which imagines a Russian invasion on American soil.
The former Iraqi leader, who had been president for 24 years, was found by American troops on 13 December 2003 in the town of ad-Dawr, near the city of Tikrit.
The following day, US president George W Bush announced his capture to the world.
“He was found near a farmhouse outside the city of Tikrit, in a swift raid conducted without casualties,” said Bush.
“And now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions.
“The capture of this man was crucial to the rise of a free Iraq. It marks the end of the road for him, and for all who bullied and killed in his name.
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“And this afternoon, I have a message for the Iraqi people: You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.
Operation Red Dawn was carried out by joint operations Task Force 121, an elite covert US military team.
After searching two sites outside the Iraqi town of ad-Dawr, codenamed “Wolverine 1” and “Wolverine 2” (The Wolverines were the high school students who fought the Russians in the movie Red Dawn), there was no sign of Hussein.
However, they found him hiding in a “spider hole” between the two sites at 8.30pm local time.
The former Iraqi leader did not resist capture, even though armed with a Glock semi-automatic pistol. An AK-47 rifle and $750,000 in US bank notes were discovered in the spider hole. Two other individuals were also detained.
The ex-Iraqi leader is reported to have said: “I am Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq and I am willing to negotiate.”
An American soldier is said to have responded: “President Bush sends his regards.”
In his speech the next day, Bush said: “In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq.
Read more: Where is Saddam Hussein buried?
“I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated.”
Hussein was given prisoner of war status and granted rights under the Geneva Conventions.
The status also meant he would be eligible to stand trial for war crimes.
After his capture, television pictures showed Hussein having a medical examination, a move criticised by some, but the US said they wanted to show the Iraqi people they had no longer anything to fear from their former leader.
Hussein was held by US forces at Camp Cropper base near Baghdad airport until 30 June 2004, when he was handed over to the interim Iraqi government to stand trial for crimes against humanity.
He was charged by the Iraqi Special Tribunal over his involvement in the 1982 Dujail massacre, in which 148 Shia Muslim civilians were killed.
He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging.
Hussein was executed on 30 December 2006 at Camp Justice, an Iraqi army based in northern Baghdad.