Saturday, December 12, 2009

John Alan Coey Pt. 2

Part 2
Coey arrived in South Africa and made his way to Salisbury swore into the Rhodesian Army. He was immediately put into the RLI's 19 week basic training that would introduce him to the Rhodesian Army and begin his journey. He was struck by the differences of the training and mostly the discipline that was a marked contrast to his time with the Marine Corps. He took to it well and understood it to be integral to the type of warfare that they were to be engaged in.

During that time he met many foreigners. In particular he met with another Marine who had deserted and fled to Rhodesia. He was none to impressed and felt he had enlisted for the wrong reasons and another Combat veteran of the Vietnam war whom he felt more synergy with.

The weeks passed and he performed well enough to be considered for SAS selection. He was excited at this prospect as he felt it would help him get to the sharp end of the spear and engage the enemy. 5 of the fifteen made it through his course and he then proceeded for the next six months on to specialist training. He was the third American to join the ranks and only two remained. The other having deserted back to the states.

At this time he had contact with a Mr. Brown , a journalist in South Africa. He submitted articles to him and was pleased that they were to be published starting with his 'Protest'. In many of the articles that were published he explained his world view on the reasons Rhodesia was fighting its war, those whom he felt were the true enemies of freedom and democracy and even some problems he felt the Rhodesian Government were not handling properly. Although this gave him some notoriety it didn't bode well overall for his standing in the army.

Foreigners were welcome to the cause but were also targets of suspicion. The Rhodesians were well aware of their precarious standing with the US and Britain since the declaration of independence as a British colony and the rising support of African nationalism in the halls of US power. Many instances of CIA incursions into the country didn't help the trust factor of Americans being brought into secretive units. He however finished his training and was a full member of the SAS.

In September of 1972, he found himself at a crossroads and began to express his disappointment on issues agreed upon by British Delegates and Ian Smith.
-Unimpeded progress of Black Majority rule
-Stationing of foreign troops
-An increase of parliamentary seats by nationalists
-Coupling the Rhodesian dollar to the Pound

He felt that these things were the exact opposite of the cause of independence and preservation of Western Civilization and that nationalism was simply a route for Communism to take over. His commitment vascillated but he pressed on in hopes of fighting off the Red Hoard.

When he was posted to his unit he found it hard to bond with the troopers. With front line units, it requires a certain mindset. Those living the lifestyle of possibly dying often live their lives on the edge in their free time to escape the stress. The old adage of 'you don't send choir boys to fight a war' rang especially true. Coey was a teetoaler and his mates might have taken his disinterest in the things young soldiers love as an afront.

He however did manage to perform well enough to go for Officer's Selection, which he was most excited about. His internal angst at a perfect ideology and an army that performed it caused some reluctance that was noted by the officers board. "You take life too seriously and you must project your personality and withdraw from your shell".

He continued on but was dismissed from the course for academic and temperament issues. He began to realize that some of his views were considered subversive to the morale of the Rhodesian Army. His articles had reached the ears of people in charge and it was deemed best not to have an officer making any contrary statements to official stances within its ranks. He was rotated back to the SAS and began aggressive patrols searching out terr camps. He determined he would not be deterred and not falter on his personal beliefs. He enjoyed this but was still not meshing with the men of the SAS.

Things came to a head in December of 1973 when his Major said he would no longer be going on patrols and his jump pay revoked. He stated that Coey ' just wasn't worth it '. It was a great humiliation that cause him to consider applying for a discharge but instead chose to go to the RLI.

Coey reassesed his purpose and goals and wrote this.
My purpose in coming to Rhodesia has been to fulfill my Christian duty of opposing Communism in two ways. First is to focus attention on the Conspiracy by refusing to be its pawn and by writing to expose it. The second is to actively fight Commuist inpsired terrorism in Africa by Military service.

Even though he had become a victim of his own ideology in the SAS and Officers course he was about to embark on what he felt to be his real mission and put actions behind his convictions.
More to come........


Anonymous said...

Hi Simon
New to your blog but a huge collector and follower of the Scouts.
Interesting comments on Coey. I had no idea that he was such an evangelical follower. Amazing that he was so successful at the assessment and selection process. To make it through the operator training course and then get assigned is quite an accomplishment. Unfortunately the politics of the Carter administration effected anything American. I am sure he was viewed with suspicion at every turn. Andrew Young and his ilk at the UN didn't help the cause either. I believe most Rhodies were English Protestant so his religious beliefs didn't help him out in that aspect either. Most Africans are non-secular during the week and head to church when forced. I have years in AF and they never cease to amaze me.
I will chat with you when you get a chance to write.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A good article, Simon. I must say that we were discouraged to even discuss politics in the army (I was South African army and I believe the Rhodesians had the same approach) and if it was discussed at all, it was never too well received. Of course, as soldiers we all had our own thoughts on how the government could be doing a better job but we had to keep that to ourselves.

Also, bear in mind that a large number of soldiers in the Rhodesian army were black and any negative comments about the Smith government could have, at that stage, made these men reconsider the side they were fighting on.

Keep up your good work.



simon said...

Thanks for visiting my primitive blog. Its been very hard to find primary source material. I intend to get into Andrew Young and the Carter administration when I do a piece on a certain American who served his whole term and voted in the elections. Im going to try and solicit material from people on a couple of websites but as has been pointed out to me, few are willing to talk about it.

EB, thanks for visiting a small timer and an academic. I respect so much the men whove 'done their bit' in the bush. I think the idea of a soldier keeping quiet is universal. It goes to show that soldiering and politiking aren't necessarily friends especially under fire. I will be writing more. Its a slow process. Trying to get things right and not rehash stuff that is already out there. A tall order on such an obscure topic.

anonymous, please share the blog address with anyone. Once Im done with the Americans, I may move on to a different part, highlighting personalities of a different nationality or some other wars.

Regards, Simon.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I have just been going through all of the comments on your blog Simon and must say, that for someone who claims to be novice at this, you are doing a fine job.

Keep it up and I look forward to reading your coming postings.