The Yank The True Story of a Former US Marine in the Irish Republican Army

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2022-09-06
Publisher(s): Melville House
List Price: $28.99

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A young Irish-American man joins an elite US Marine unit to get the most intensive military training possible ... then joins the IRA, during the days of some of the bloodiest fighting ever in the Irish-British conflict.

April 1975 — A young Irish-American man — born in the U.S. to Irish parents, but schooled in Ireland — returns to the US on a mission. Within days of turning 18, he enlists in an elite unit of the United States Marine Corps. He joins not out of love for America, but out of love for Ireland. His goal: To get the most intensive military training possible, and then volunteer for the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
The Irish "Troubles" were at a murderous fever pitch at the time. Bloody Sunday, when British troops shot dead 14 Irish civilian protestors, had happened. So had Bloody Friday, when 9 people were killed by IRA bombs. The British Houses of Parliament had been bombed, and so had the Old Baily Courthouse in central London. Despite a recent ceasefire, civilian casualties were common as British soldiers, and Republican militants (who wanted the UK out of Ireland) and Unionist militants (who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK), engaged in gun battles and car bombing throughout Northern Ireland. The death toll numbered over 1,000.
Fighting the British, Northern Irish police units, and multiple Unionist militant groups, the Republican were split on how to react between the old-line IRA, and the new Provisional IRA — the Provos, mostly impassioned young men who were not hesitant to resort to violence.
In a powerful, brutally honest, no-holds-barred recounting of his experience, John Crawley details, first, the grueling challenges of his Marine Corps training, then how he put his hard-earned munitions and demolitions skills to use back in Ireland in service of the Provos. It is a story that will see him running guns with notorious American mobster — and secret IRA fundraiser — Whitey Bulger; running, under cover of night, from safe house to safe house in the Irish countryside, one step ahead of British troops; being captured, imprisoned, and being part of a mass escape attempt; fending off a recruitment offer from the CIA; and being one of the masterminds behind a campaign to take out London's electrical system.
Along the way, Crawley is blisteringly candid about the memorable people he worked with, including behind-the-scenes portrayals of revered IRA leader Martin McGuinness, and of the psychopathic Whitey Bulger, as well as others in the Boston IRA support network. There are vivid portraits of colleagues and enemies, and Crawley is unflinching in his commentary on IRA leadership and their tactics, both military and political.
Through it all comes the steadfast voice of a man on a mission, providing an evocative, detailed, and passionate recounting of where that mission led him and why — as well as why, to this day, he remains ready to serve.

Author Biography

John Crawley is a former Sergeant in an elite, special forces unit of the United States Marine Corps who became a Volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. Born in New York to Irish immigrant parents he moved to Ireland as a young teenager to attend school. Inspired by the struggle for Irish freedom against British rule in the North of Ireland he returned to America to receive military training in order to one day join the Irish republican resistance against the British. While in the Marine Corps John served as a member of an elite ‘Recon’ unit. Later, as an IRA activist, he was sent to America by IRA leader Martin McGuinness to acquire weapons. While there he met and worked with the notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Taking part in a daring cross-Atlantic smuggling operation during hurricane season, John’s operation was betrayed by an informer, and he was captured and sentenced to ten years in prison. During that time he took part in an audacious but unsuccessful escape attempt. He also obtained a university degree in political science. Upon his release from prison he immediately volunteered to return to IRA active service. Shortly afterward he was arrested in London on a charge of conspiracy to cause explosions, allegedly in a plot to take out the electrical system of southern England. He received another 35 years in prison. While jailed in England he was approached by the CIA and offered a new life in America and a substantial sum of money to become an informer but refused. Released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement John is now married with a family and lives in County Monaghan, Ireland. He remains as committed as ever to the ending of British rule in Ireland and the establishment of a united Irish Republic.

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