Sunday 28 August 2011
RIP John McAleese
John McAleese Dies (Source Mail Online)
I don't often do this sort of thing when I don't know them. I see from the Mail Online article that John McAleese has died of a heart attack.
For those who aren't old enough to remember, here's some video of him in action (at about 25 seconds).
I recall that night as a boy visiting my Grandparents. No one said much on those visits and we were watching a James Bond movie (how apt). Back in those days, you knew it was serious when a programme was interrupted for a "newsflash", so when they stopped the James Bond film, everyone in my grandparents front room sat up and paid attention and back in those days, this was seriously dramatic footage.
McAleese and his colleagues became instant heroes to us all and we knew none of them. There was no clue at the time who these ghosts in black gas masks were and for a while they disappeared as fast as they arrived, with newsreaders and reporters clutching at straws as to who they were and where they had come from. What was certain they had become the stuff of legend. It didn't take too long to learn they were SAS and who this regiment were, but it would take even longer to learn exactly how they did what they did at the Iranian embassy.
Part of their magic I think was that we as Britain's were proud of them following that exposure in the public eye. To me they sent a message to those that wished us harm that we had men that would not back down in impossible circumstances and that in extreme situations we had ghosts that would come and get you. For me they sent a message that we might still be little (and in many ways getting smaller) but pick a fight with us and you were still going to get knocked out because we had the bogeyman and you should be sacred.
So Mr McAleese sleep well and may you rest in peace because although we never knew you, you gave us glimpse of what heroes look like and reminded us of what we can be.