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. 1.0 1.1 "John McAleese". The Daily Telegraph. 29 August 2011. 
  2. "Iran embassy SAS leader John McAleese dies". BBC News. 28 August 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "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