John Thomas "Mac" McAleese, MM (25 April 1949 – 26 August 2011) was a Scottish soldier who took part in several late 20th century conflicts with the British Army's Royal Engineers and the Special Air Service Regiment, including the storming of the Iranian Embassy in London during a hostage taking siege incident in May 1980.
McAleese was born in Stirling, Scotland, on 25 April 1949 and grew up in Laurieston, Falkirk.
He joined the Royal Engineers in 1969, aged 20, and in 1973 passed the All Arms Commando Course (AACC), which earned him the green beret and transferred to 59 Independent Commando, Royal Engineers.
In 1978 he transferred into the Special Air Service Regiment. He was a lance corporal in 1980, serving in Pagoda Troop, 'B' Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment, Rusty Firmin led the "Blue Team" in the storming of the Iranian Embassy in London during a hostage siege on 5 May 1980.
John McAleese, the man in black, in charge of the infamous balcony led a four man assault team, he was the first man in when the SAS stormed the Iranian embassy in London in May 1980, beamed live on television, putting an end to six days of tension in which the building was held by terrorists who had taken hostages. Millions of viewers watched as McAleese, in black overalls, balaclava and gas mask, carrying a submachine gun and grenades, blew in a window with a small charge. Stun grenades and CS gas canisters followed. His team helped rescue the hostages and saved lives.
McAleese fought in the Falklands War in 1982, he was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry during tours of Northern Ireland. He also served as a bodyguard for three Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom. He was discharged from the British Army on 8 February 1992 with the senior non-commissioned officer the rank of staff sergeant.
After leaving the British Army McAleese worked for a short while as the landlord of a Hereford public house, was employed as a security contractor in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and became an advisor/interviewee on several British television programmes examining the working practices of British Special Forces soldiering. He sold his British Army service medals for an undisclosed sum to the Lord Ashcroft Collection. He appeared in the BBC produced television documentary series 'SAS Survival Secrets' (2003), detailing the organizational structure of the Special Air Service Regiment and the nature of the military and security roles in which it is used.
McAleese died on 26 August 2011 of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 62. His funeral was held at Hereford Cathedral. He was survived by his wife, a daughter by his first marriage, and two children by his second marriage.