John McAleese was a famous SAS operator who fought in several conflicts in the late 20th century. He also took part in Operation Nimrod, a famous Special Air Service (SAS) raid at the Iranian embassy in London in May 1980. The Iranian embassy was under siege, and its employees were held hostage for almost a month. The siege was ended with a daring SAS full-scale assault.
John Thomas “Mac” McAleese was born on 25 April 1949 in Scotland. He grew up in Laurieston, Falkirk. McAleese joined the British army in 1969 and soon was deployed to the 59th independent command, Royal Engineers. He was just 20 years old. Six years later, he moved to Hereford in 1975 after he passed the SAS selection course. He served in the rank of Lance Corporal in the B squadron, 22 SAS Regiment.
As John Mac told in the TV show, the moment which changed his life was the hostage crisis in the Iranian embassy. McAleese became famous after he was spotted with the SAS Blue Team members live on television. John McAleese was seen on the Iranian embassy’s first-floor balcony when attempting to place an explosive charge on the door. It was moments before they stormed the building on 05 May 1980.
In his further SAS career, John McAleese also served in the Falkland War in 1982, and he received the Military Medal in 1988 for his service contribution in Northern Ireland. He also served as a personal bodyguard for three major British ministers. He left the army in 1992 as Sergeant, and after the military, he was appointed as a security consultant in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also was an instructor of Airsoft.
SAS: Are you tough enough?
John McAleese became famous when he told his life story in the TV show SAS: Are you tough enough? With his mustaches trademarked in the shape of a horseshoe, he was shortly recognized as the legend of the World’s special forces. The show was aired on British television and had a certain success.
It was produced from 2002-2004, exposing volunteer members of the public to the experience of the British Army’s Special Air Service’s selection process. It was presented by Dermot O’Leary, alongside already mentioned John Mac. The TV show is filmed in Southern Morocco – and the contestants will be staying in a makeshift training camp within a 150-year-old Kasbar, or fortress, in the mountains’ foothills.
The life and death of John McAleese
John Mac died on 26 August 2011 in Thessaloniki, Greece, from a heart attack. The funeral was held in the cathedral in Hereford with military honors.
He was married twice. His heart weakened in 2009, when his son, then 29-year old Sergeant Paul McAleese, was killed on duty in Helmand, Afghanistan when IED hit his vehicle. He was a member of the 2 Battalion The Rifles, and his only wish was to be like his father. He wanted to join the Special Air Service. John McAleese had his second wife, a daughter from his first marriage, and two children from his second marriage.
Call of Duty: Captain Price
John McAleese was honored in 2003 when he was featured in the popular video game Call of Duty, where he gave the concept of the character Captain Price. Price had a large mustache directly inspired by John McAleese, also well known for his large mustache. He was also the man behind Shug Mcdonald’s in the Thief Mistress books. He appeared in many sequels ever and was recognized by millions worldwide.
The story of John McAleese’s lives, even though he died almost ten years ago, people from the SAS community still remember this great warrior.