88 year old Hero Saves the Day

John Nixon, a former member of the British SAS, chased off a five-member gang who were brandishing knives and attempting to rob a young woman on the streets of Kentish Town in London. Nixon had been trained in counter-terrorism, covert surveillance, intelligence gathering, sabotage and hostage rescue for the Special Air Service (SAS). Very few applicants are approved to join the exclusive team, and the aptitude tests are tough to pass.

When admitted, the men receive extended training and are required to become expert at a particular skill and proficient in all others. Their motto is “Who Dares Wins.” As the unit specializes in covert operations, there are not many photos available to the general public. Those that do exist, often have the soldiers’ faces blackened out.

Weapons used by the SAS include the C8 Carbine; the UCIW – Ultra Compact Individual Weapon, a cut M4; the M16; the HK G3 and HK 33 and 53; handguns such as the Sig Sauer P226 and the Browning High Power. Also, two types of sniper rifles, grenades, anti-tank rocket launchers and surface to air missiles – just to name a few.

Who Dares Wins. Photo: François Goglins, CC BY-SA 4.0
Who Dares Wins. Photo: François Goglins, CC BY-SA 4.0

Due to his intensive training and experience with the SAS in the Korean conflict, Nixon automatically went into defense mode when he saw the gang harassing the woman. He yelled at them to leave the woman alone. The gang, not realizing they were dealing with a highly trained commando who had taken part in covert intelligence in Germany, Egypt, and the Middle East, approached Nixon with the intention of also robbing the 88-year-old.

Nixon gave one member a karate chop to the neck and proceeded to disarm another. The surprised gang quickly ran off leaving Nixon with minor cuts to his hands and head. A nearby resident called the police. Nixon was transported to the hospital where he was treated and then released.

When the local police hailed him for his bravery, he remarked:

“I’ve been shot in the leg and even bitten by a snake; the venom lay dormant in my spine for years. I’ve been near death so many times that situation just doesn’t worry me. The woman ran off screaming, but I hope she is okay.”

The US also has a version of the British SAS called the Delta Force – although members call themselves “The Unit.” Their mission is counter-terrorism which includes the elimination of terrorists, the rescue of hostages, guarding important visitors to the United States as well as American VIPs in other countries, and investigation of terrorist threats.

A Delta Force soldier protects General Norman Schwarzkopf.
A Delta Force soldier protects General Norman Schwarzkopf.

During the Gulf War in 1991, the Delta Force guarded Army General Norman Schwarzkopf and captured Saddam Hussein in 2003 along with help from the British SAS.

Created by Colonel Charles (Chargin’ Charlie) Beckworth after he had observed the British version, Delta Force is made up of four squadrons. They include a reconnaissance and sniper troop and two direct action troops described by the US Department of Defense as:

“Short-duration strikes and other small-scale offensive actions conducted as a special operation in hostile denied, or politically sensitive environments and which employ specialized military capabilities and assault troops.”

Colonel Beckwith served during the conflict in Korea; two tours in Vietnam and led Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue the hostages from the American Embassy in Iran in 1980.

Colonel Beckworth retired soon after that mission with thirty years of military service.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE