Several years ago while reading the writings of Robin Moore, the author of the classic book The Green Berets, I discovered that he had spent two years in Rhodesia, a small African country, running an unofficial American embassy that catered particularly to Americans who had joined the Rhodesian Army in their battle against the tide of Communism in Southern Africa.

I began to remember old Soldier of Fortune Magazines that had written about ‘Mercs’ fighting for this country. Needless to say, I was intrigued and wondered who these men were, these ‘The Crippled Eagles’.

I scoured the internet and Amazon to find any reading material that would give me more information on these men. Most of whom were veterans of the Vietnam War that continued the profession of War Time soldiering and the battle against the Red Tide. Very little was available at that time. Thankfully, I found bits and pieces that would lead me on to another clue, another person to contact or another book to read.

It seemed that these men were quiet. The ones who were very loud and vocal, adding Mercenary/Rhodesia/Selous Scouts to their CV were often frauds. It was easy even five years ago to imagine your past and add in some manly ‘Merc’ activity to it, simply because resource material was scarce to verify a persons claims.

As I began to home in on legitimate pieces of information, certain names kept appearing and John Cronin was one of them. I keep a list of people that I hope to come across in order to possibly get their stories or information on the war. It turned out that the best information came from the burgeoning online community of Rhodesian War veterans. Their history and story is an understudied segment of military history that deserves to be up there with any of the great Special Operations units of the world.

Some I made contact with on Facebook, others through email. The Rhodesians themselves had opinions on Yanks who made it over to participate in the war. There were either good men or shitbags. Most of the Yanks who went over either excelled as members of the Rhodesian Army or deserted. There may have been 300 or so that went over but far less distinguished themselves. John Cronin is solid.

The Odyssey of an American Warrior

The search for Captain Cronin had turned up a dry hole so I was extremely excited to see a book simply appear on Amazon’s recommendations for my account. Called The Bleed, I immediately downloaded it and devoured it. This book is a classic autobiography that fills in so many missing links about the few that served in Vietnam and then Rhodesia. Whether you are interested in Rhodesia or not, anyone remotely interested in Special Operations and the lifestyle of a Professional Soldier from the Baby Boom generation will enjoy this read.

Cronin’s family had served with distinction in combat through all of the major wars America has participated in and he was to be no exception. In the mid 1960s and the ramping up of forces in Vietnam, he enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute for his college education. Circumstance and his easy going style forced him to make other decisions a year later.