A Warrior-Scholar’s Fight for Rhodesia

Sinclair Jenkins, American Renaissance, March 9, 2018

The fighting doc: John Alan Coey.

The story of Rhodesia has a strong resonance with “red pilled” white Americans. Needless to say, since Rhodesia is now Zimbabwe, it is not a happy story. Indeed, Rhodesia shows us what happens when whites become a powerless minority. In 1980, Rhodesia, once the “bread basket of Africa,” began its steep decline into the worst economic disaster in modern times, while today, in 2018, South Africa appears to be following in its path.

But the story of Rhodesia is not all gloom. This small white-minority nation stood up to the world, and despite an economic embargo that lasted for over a decade, it managed to win victory after victory on the battlefield against insurgents. 1977’s Operation Dingo is a testament to the strength, endurance, and ingenuity of the small, but professional Rhodesian Security Forces. British General Sir Walter Walker, upon reviewing Operation Dingo, said of Rhodesians:

Their army cannot be defeated in the field either by terrorists or even a much more sophisticated enemy. In my professional judgement based on more than twenty years’ experience from lieutenant to general, of counter-insurgency and guerrilla-type operations, there is no doubt that Rhodesia now has the most professional and battle-worthy army in the world for this particular type of warfare. [1]

The vast majority of the men who served in such famous units as the Rhodesian SAS, the Selous Scouts, and the Rhodesian Light Infantry were sons of Rhodesia, but the country also welcomed foreign fighters during the Bush War of the 1960s and 1970s. Most joined through advertisements in Soldier of Fortune magazine, and many came from South Africa, where Anglo and Boer whites had a long tradition of serving as soldiers-for-hire. Rhodesia itself was established by mercenaries in the employ of imperialist Cecil Rhodes. His British South Africa Company hired the best trackers and settlers to turn the Bantu lands north of the Limpopo into Rhodesia.

One mercenary group during the Bush War, the “Crippled Eagles,” attracted attention because its members came from the United States. The group’s chronicler, Robin Moore, saw them as an extension of the original Green Berets who went out to Vietnam to stem the tide of Asian communism.

Many American volunteers in Rhodesia fought for a healthy paycheck, but some had lofty goals. One of these was John Alan Coey. His reasons for fighting were racial, religious, and political. Coey believed that preserving white Africa in the face of Afro-Marxism and international capitalism was right because Rhodesia stood for Western Christendom. These views earned Coey few friends in America or even in Rhodesia, but his bravery inspired his comrades to continue the good fight against steep odds.

Born in 1950 in Columbus, Ohio, Coey enjoyed the type of all-American life that is increasingly rare. The Coey family were openly Lutheran, and was a true believer in Americanism. Coey was an Eagle Scout, and when it came time for college, he decided to stay home and study forestry at Ohio State University.

When he enrolled at OSU in 1968, Coey joined the Marine Corps officer training program. His military aptitude earned him respect in the corps, but the wider world of the American college campus of the late 1960s hated USMC cadet-students. The Tet Offensive of 1968 soured millions of Americans on the war in Vietnam. Also in 1968 were the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the year became shorthand for political turmoil. There was intense hostility for America on university campuses, where the New Left and the earliest stirrings of cultural Marxism blamed whites for black poverty and rising crime rates.

Coey did not believe these things, but was equally distrustful of American “conservatism.” For him, all of America’s bluster about being the world’s predominant anti-communist power meant nothing when American foreign policy supported Afro-Marxist insurgents against the white-minority nations of Rhodesia, South Africa, Portuguese Angola, and Portuguese Mozambique. Coey also thought that President Richard Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy was cowardly abandonment of our allies.

Coey’s disenchantment with America reached a climax in 1972. He accepted his degree but dropped his Marine Corps commission and flew to Rhodesia. Here, he hoped to find the real fight against communism. He never returned to the States.

Coey, who kept a diary throughout his years in Rhodesia, believed that the Bush War was a fight against what he called the “New Order.” He believed that under the cover of free love, free choice, and other distractions, internationalists were ruining everything that makes life worth living. He also believed that the New Left had been co-opted by global finance. “The left wing has recognized the dehumanizing trends of industrial society, but its activism to change society has been channeled by the real revolutionaries of Internationalism,” he wrote.

John Alan Coey

In his diary entries and published articles, Coey comes close to resembling Ernst Jünger, a German Army officer whose experiences in World War I convinced him that a “total mobilization” of society could overcome the liberal-bourgeois cancers of both capitalism and communism. Jünger’s concept of the “anarch,” or the lone individual who “recognizing no government, but not indulging in paradisal dreams as the anarchist does,” is the ultimate survivor. Like Jünger’s anarch, Coey often clashed with the official Rhodesian government line. Yet Coey’s adherence to his own principles meant that he served Rhodesia with distinction, for only Rhodesia came the closest to challenging the globalists.

Coey lost a position in the legendary Rhodesian SAS when the military discovered his political writings under the pen name “Johann Coetzee.” The final straw was an article about Coey’s belief that the United States was a deeply anti-Western nation whose anti-communism masked its much stronger hatred for European colonialism.

Coey transferred to the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI), a commando unit that used helicopters for long-range reconnaissance patrols and “fireforce” missions, a daring form of airborne counterinsurgency described in detail here. Coey and others developed the position of combat medic for the first time in the RLI. As the “Fighting Doc,” Coey saw action all over Rhodesia’s restive border with Mozambique, which expelled or imprisoned all Portuguese whites not long after independence in 1975. On July 19, 1975, Coey was shot and killed near Mount Darwin while trying to pull another trooper to safety. His death was the first American KIA of the Rhodesian Bush War.

For a long time, Coey’s legacy was unknown beyond the Rhodesian Army. His mother tried for years to get his diary published, only to receive rejection after rejection. When the diary was finally published under the title A Martyr Speaks, academics and reviewers panned it as “extremist” propaganda. Black historian Gerald Horne, an avowed Marxist, called Coey a “white supremacist” and said Coey was overly worried about Chinese involvement in Africa—a concern that was prescient.

Coey, who died at age 24, was far more realistic than academics or newsmen. In one journal entry, he lambasted the American media for believing that black rule in Rhodesia would be anything but disaster: “In the eyes of the mass media the black man can do nothing wrong and white man can do nothing right, for even his sacrifices and help are discredited.”

Coey also had strong views on Chrisianity:

I’ve been going to Baptist church services. The Gospel is preached there, but I have decided to go elsewhere because these Baptists are convinced that the Zionist takeover of Palestine is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. They believe that the Second Coming of Christ is near, and think that they have the Revelation figured out completely. They expect to be “raptured” away from the coming terror to help Christ rule in the Millennium. I remind them of Christ’s words, “My kingdom is not of this word,” and “No man knoweth the day or the hour when the Son of God shall come again.”

John Alan Coey was a true 20th century Christian warrior. He also understood that establishing a white ethnostate is not enough. The cultural rot of liberalism can destroy even the healthiest societies. Breaking the grip of the New Order means creating a counter-revolution that both preserves the past and creates a better vision of progress. Coey believed that race realism without a social conservative’s hatred for “free love” and secular values is doomed to recreate the same fallen society it professes to hate.

Coey was a warrior-scholar—a representative of Jonathan Bowden’s “cultured thug” class or Julius Evola’s modern kshatriya. He was a man of action, but he was also a man of letters who recorded fundamental truths. The West refuses to learn these truths, and will pay for its ignorance. Let us remember John Alan Coey, his actions, and his words:

The basis of race, culture, and nation is vital for the survival of Western Civilization. Blood and soil, conservation and nationalism are what make a country and civilization sound, strong, and healthy. But faith is needed, faith in our way of life, our civilization, and faith in a Higher Destiny and the Divine Sanction of God.

* * *

[1]: Wessels, Hannes. A Handful of Hard Men: The SAS and the Battle for Rhodesia (Philadelphia and Oxford: Casemate, 2017), p. 123.

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Sinclair Jenkins
Sinclair Jenkins is an academic in the Northeast. He frequently writes on politics and philosophy for various publications.
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