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SAS hero John McAleese remembered at Hereford Cathedral
4:21pm Thursday 22nd September 2011 in Hereford City
HEREFORD Cathedral was packed this afternoon to remember SAS hero John McAleese.
Former soldiers joined family members and television comedian Jim Davidson in remembering the trooper at an emotional service.
Mr McAleese, who died last month in Greece after suffering a heart attack aged 62, was most famously known for the part he played in ending the siege at the Iranian embassy in London in 1980.
Rusty Firmin, his friend of 38 years who also helped free the hostages in front of the watching millions, retold the story of how “John Mac” swore at Margaret Thatcher when they were trying to watch a television replay of the SAS mission.
Mr Firmin added: “John’s wife at the time was also watching the television and said “so that’s where he is” as she knew him by his trademark legs.”
Other family members paid tribute to their soldier father while also remembering him as a great dad.
Hayley McAleese said: “You were clumsy, smoked too much and ate too many curries, but none of that mattered because you loved me.
His daughter also explained how the loss of her brother had affected her father.
Serjeant Paul McAleese was serving with the Rifles in Afghanistan in 2009 when he was killed while trying to help a fallen soldier.
Hayley added: “When Paul died two years ago I stood in this same spot and looked down at you and the pain in your face was all too clear to see. But the way I see it is that there are now two heroes in heaven.”
Mr Firmin told more anecdotes of how his friend’s lack of hygiene had earned him the nickname Baldrick but added that “when the going got tough, you did not want anyone else beside you but the man in black.”
Mr McAleese’s coffin was accompanied into the Cathedral by the sound of the bagpipes and left to Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell.