Mention the SAS to anyone and immediately, pictures of elite soldiers who can seemingly perform superhuman feats come to mind.
Their motto is “Who dares, wins,” and they have certainly dared a lot so much so that their exploits have become popular fare for TV and movie fiction and documentaries.
A SAS fighter passed at age 71 after battling with cancer. Tom MacDonald, from Glasgow, was part of the special force team to rescue hostages.
One incident started it all and catapulted the SAS to international recognition and acclaim and that was the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.
Arab separatists had seized the embassy in South Kensington in April 1980 and took 26 people, hostage, with a diplomatic protection officer and a few BBC journalists among the hostages. They demanded 91 prisoners in Iran to be set free but were denied, leading to a tense standoff.
Then prime minister Margaret Thatcher decided to call in the SAS to resolve the situation.
The SAS stormed the embassy in what later became known as Operation Nimrod and it was the first time the world had seen an elite team perform hostage rescue with such precision. Nineteen of the remaining hostages were saved as a result of the operation (five were previously released and one had been killed).
Among those who performed the daring rescue was Tom MacDonald who sadly passed away recently at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer. He was one of the masked troopers that photographers managed to photograph as the rescue mission was ongoing.
MacDonald, originally from Glasgow, had retired to Oamaru in New Zealand after a storied career in the military. For his role in the rescue mission, he was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal prior to his retirement in 2003.
He said he “had a beer” with Mrs. Thatcher and her husband following the successful mission.
Nine months ago, he recalled what happened during the mission, saying: “The whole thing lasted minutes. When we went into the embassy it was on five floors. My snipers were meant to contain the first floor, where I was, and the fifth floor and the assault team were to take the middle three floors. It turned out that a couple of the terrorists had come down to the floor that I went in on.
“It was me that jumped the balcony and went in through the window, myself and another three.
“We found the terrorists in there and dealt with them, so within 30 seconds I had gone through a window and killed two people, which wasn’t really expected.”