I recently came across a video interview of a British Army veteran who, at the age of 94, jumped into Normandy, France, as part of this year's 75th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day Landings in 1944. It surprised me to see it, because I'd met him before, more than 30 years ago.
This interview with Mr. Hutton was filmed a few years earlier.
Little did the cameraman and reporter know that Jock Hutton was far more than just another D-Day veteran. He was - and remains - a living legend in the Special Forces community.
Former Squadron Sergeant Major of the Rhodesian Special Air Service is quite a man, and a bit of a legend to say the least. During World War Two, Jock attempted to join the British military but was too young initially. At 18, he joined the British paratroopers prior to D-Day and jumped in to Normandy. On that 6th of June in 1944, Jock saw action fighting the Nazis near the Orn river. He was injured a few weeks later and evacuated back to the UK, later returning to again fight the Germans in Ardennes. Jock was captured by the Nazis and then escaped, again jumping into combat in 1945 in Germany. The good Sergeant Major also has an impressive post-war resume, including operations in Palestine (45-48), Cyprus and Egypt (49-52), as well as Malaysia, Singapore, and Java (52-54).
In 1955, Jock participated in the first Selection course for the Rhodesian SAS. In 1957, Jock took the reins from another notable World War II veteran, Stan Standish, as the Squadron Sergeant Major of C-Squadron, Rhodesian SAS. He remained in Rhodesia until the conclusion of the Bush War, and joined South Africa’s 5 Recce in 1981.
I met Mr. Hutton in passing on a couple of occasions in northern Namibia during the mid-1980's. We were never formally introduced, or anything like that; but all those who pointed him out to me sounded as though they were in awe of him. He had quite the reputation, thanks to his vast combat experience, and reportedly took no nonsense from anybody, no matter what their rank. He must have had well over 40 years military experience by the time he eventually retired; perhaps closer to 50 years. That's something very few veterans can boast.
Frankly, I'm amazed he's still alive, but I'm very pleased to see him still so active. He apparently wanted to jump solo for this year's D-Day celebrations, but the British organizers ruled he was too old; so he had to tandem-jump with an instructor. I can only assume they didn't know his military record very well. If he'd had any trouble, I daresay he would have beaten the earth into submission with his feet while coming in to land!