John McAleese

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John McAleese
Nickname(s) Mac
Born 25 April 1949
Laurieston, Stirlingshire, Scotland, UK
Died 26 August 2011 (aged 62)
Thessaloniki, Greece
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1969-1992
Rank Staff Sergeant
Unit 22 SAS
Awards Military Medal

John Thomas "Mac" McAleese, MM (25 April 1949 – 26 August 2011) was a British Army soldier who led an SAS team which stormed the Iranian embassy in London in May 1980 to end the Iranian Embassy siege (Operation Nimrod).[1][2] He became known for retelling his story on TV and for taking part in the reality show SAS: Are You Tough Enough?.

McAleese was born in Stirling and grew up in Laurieston, Stirlingshire.[3] He joined 59 Independent Commando, Royal Engineers, in 1969, aged 20. He moved to Hereford in 1975 after being accepted by the SAS. He was a lance corporal in 1980, serving in Pagoda Troop, B Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment, when he was famously seen with members of his team - Blue Team - on live television placing an explosive charge on the front first floor balcony of the Iranian Embassy prior to the assault on 5 May 1980.

McAleese later took part in the Falklands War in 1982, and was awarded the Military Medal in 1988 for service in Northern Ireland. He also served as a bodyguard for three British prime ministers.[4] He was honourably discharged from the British Army on 8 February 1992 in the rank of staff sergeant.[1][3] After that, he worked as a security consultant in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was also an airsoft instructor.

McAleese married twice. In 2009, his elder son, 29-year-old Sergeant Paul McAleese of 2 Battalion The Rifles, was killed on active duty in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province.[3] John McAleese suffered a heart attack and died in Thessaloniki, Greece. His funeral was held at Hereford Cathedral.[5] He was survived by his second wife, a daughter by his first marriage, and two children by his second marriage.


  1. ^ a b "John McAleese". The Daily Telegraph. 29 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Iran embassy SAS leader John McAleese dies". BBC News. 28 August 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "John McAleese: Leader of the SAS team that ended the 1980 siege of the Iranian embassy in London". The Independent. 30 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Obituary, The Guardian, 8 September 2011
  5. ^ Iran embassy SAS man John McAleese has cathedral funeral, BBC News, 22 September 2011