100 days – Day 13
Today marks the 34th anniversary of the end of the Iranian Embassy siege.
Although I was in Trinidad at the time, the news programmes showed footage of what was happening in London.
In Britain, there was live coverage on TV of the unfolding events.
The siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the Embassy. The gunmen took 26 people hostage—mostly embassy staff, but several visitors and a police officer, who had been guarding the embassy, were also held.
By the sixth day of the siege the gunmen had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in meeting their demands. That evening, they killed one of the hostages and threw his body out of the embassy. As a result, the British government ordered the SAS to conduct an assault to rescue the remaining hostages. Shortly afterwards, soldiers abseiled from the roof of the building and forced entry through the windows. During the 17-minute raid, the SAS rescued all but one of the remaining hostages, and killed five of the six terrorists. (Wikipedia – adapted)
I read recently that the SAS sergeant who led the raid on the besieged Iranian Embassy died in August 2011 of a broken heart after his son was killed in Afghanistan.
John McAleese, who was in his early sixties, died in Thessaloniki, Greece, where he was working as a security guard. He came to symbolise the bravery of the SAS after millions viewers saw him blast open a window during the storming of the building in 1980. But despite his fearless reputation, he never recovered from the death of Sergeant Paul McAleese, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand in 2009 ago at 29.
Perhaps in war or conflict, there are sometimes no winners – even for those who dare. RIP Sergeant John McAleese and your beloved son, Sgt. Paul McAleese, heroes to whom we owe such a debt of gratitude.
“O Grave, where is thy victory; O Death, where is thy Sting?”
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