John Alan Coey
A Martyr Speaks
CPA Book Publishers, 1994
White racialism is demonized in Western countries today, but this was not always so, and will not always be so. Our race consists not only of the millions of white people alive today, but also includes our ancestors and descendants, who live today in us, for their blood flows through our veins. They are relying on us to do the hard work of building a better future for our people. Although those of us who understand and accept this duty may be only a small minority, our ancestors and descendants stand alongside us in this struggle. We should always keep this truth in mind.
Our history is filled with countless admirable men and women who thought about race in a sane and healthy way. Some are well-known, but others, such as John Alan Coey, have mostly been forgotten — but Coey should be remembered.
Who was John Alan Coey?
John Alan Coey (1950-1975) was a soldier, author, devout Christian, race realist, and anti-Communist activist. Raised in Columbus, Ohio, Coey attended college at Ohio State University, earning a degree in forestry in the spring of 1972. He was passionate about conservation and was concerned about the effects of industrialization on both the environment and the health of human societies. Pollution bothered Coey, as did the rapid pace of technological development, which he once described as “dehumanizing.”
Coey witnessed several Left-wing student protests while at Ohio State, and he strongly disapproved of them. He taught Sunday school at his Lutheran church, and closely followed world politics. He became convinced that the United States had fallen under the control of anti-white and anti-Christian Internationalist forces which were deliberately undermining American efforts to oppose Communist regimes abroad, while at the same time subverting traditional societal norms at home.
Coey communicated with various racialist and Right-wing organizations and held a generally positive view of their activities, but felt that their general lack of emphasis on spirituality would prevent them from seriously threatening the American establishment. He wrote that:
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 strong, sound 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 — that he is using us to work good in His creation.
Coey seriously considered a career in the US Marine Corps. He even went so far as to participate in an officer training program, but he ultimately requested a discharge, forgoing the opportunity to become a commissioned officer. Instead, Coey decided to travel to Rhodesia so that he could fight for Ian Smith’s white-run government against Communist-supported black insurgents. Rhodesia, or present-day Zimbabwe, was a short-lived state that declared its independence from the British Empire in order to forestall the process of decolonization. It fell in 1979, but only after a brutal civil war. Throughout its entire existence Rhodesia had few friends, faced constant economic sanctions, and was viewed across the world as an illegitimate government and a moral pariah. Nevertheless, Rhodesia boasted one of the world’s most effective armies and could rely on the staunch support of its citizens, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
In a letter titled “A Soldier’s Protest,” Coey laid out his reasons for joining the Rhodesian Army rather than the US Marines. He argued that disloyal elements within the US government were engaged in “deliberate sabotage” vis-à-vis the war in Vietnam, making an American victory impossible. He also claimed that there was an “attempted overthrow of the Constitutional Republic of the United States by a revolutionary conspiracy of Internationalists, collectivists and communists in and out of the US government.” For this he blamed “the revolutionary forces of the Council on Foreign Relations and the alien forces of International Finance.”
Coey joined the Rhodesian Army just days after his college graduation, and served dutifully until he was killed in action in 1975. He kept a journal which documented his experiences, and he had hoped to have it published at some point. Owing to the determination of his mother Phyllis and brother Ed, Coey’s wartime diary was finally published under the title A Martyr Speaks. The book is both a firsthand account of the Rhodesian Bush War and the manifesto of a political dissident who was steadfast in his quest to live the principles that he espoused.
There are, unfortunately, portions of Coey’s journal which were censored by Rhodesian intelligence and never released to his family, and are therefore lost to history. What readers do have, though, are 246 pages of Coey’s thoughts on a variety of subjects, including race, religion, and international politics, as well as detailed descriptions of day-to-day life in the Rhodesian military. A Martyr Speaks is an engrossing read thanks to the combination of Coey’s talent for narrative writing and his ability to articulate his philosophical convictions. Through Coey’s eyes, the reader is taken on two simultaneous journeys: a martial adventure to preserve Rhodesia as an outpost of Western Civilization, and a young man’s quest to discover his destiny and fulfill it honorably.
Coming to Africa
Coey left home for the last time on the day after graduating from Ohio State, embarking on his three year-long odyssey in southern Africa. He originally wanted to spend his military career in the Special Air Service (SAS), one of the most elite units in the entire Rhodesian military. The training was quite difficult. One of the tasks that prospective SAS men had to endure was a multi-day training exercise at Rhodes Inyanga National Park in eastern Rhodesia. Coey wrote regarding this: “We had to march an average of 13 miles per day through that country, carrying 30-pound packs, rifles, food rations for a three-day supply, and using a map and compass to find our way.” Only five of the 16 recruits in Coey’s unit completed all five legs of the journey. Some were injured on the rugged terrain, one caught malaria, and the others were simply too exhausted to continue.
Coey found the training difficult, but wrote: “I am proud to be going through all of this, for I will be more of a man for it, and I would want my son to go through the same.” Another training exercise involved a 15-mile march followed by each recruit carrying another man and his 50-pound pack a distance of 100 yards, and concluding with a five-mile hike. Coey finished this trek in an astounding three hours and ten minutes, 20 minutes ahead of the required time. So impressive was Coey to his superiors that he was seriously considered for a “Recruit of the Year” award, though it was ultimately given to another soldier by the name of George Jenkinson, who Coey described as both his “best friend” and “the perfect gentleman.”
There were a total of 37 recruits who attempted to qualify for the SAS in late 1972, but only five were successful. Coey was one of them, but his military ambitions did not end there. His next goal was to become an officer. He remained politically active throughout this time, writing articles that warned about the threat to Rhodesia posed by Internationalists to anyone who would listen, soldier and civilian alike.
Coey’s military career suffered a major setback when he was dropped not only from the officer training program, but from the SAS entirely. Failing to become an officer bothered him, and he suspected that his being dropped had less to do with his abilities as a soldier than it did with his radical political beliefs. Distraught, Coey became unsure if staying in Rhodesia was the right choice, and even applied for a discharge, which was rejected. Needing to find a new role in the army, Coey made the decision to transfer to the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) in the hopes of becoming a medic.
The medical training course was a rewarding experience for Coey, and he passed, earning the rank of Corporal. Corporal Coey never shied away from combat, and actually developed something of a thirst for the action. He volunteered to go to the front even when there was no expectation for him to do so. He wrote:
I’ve done something unconventional for medics. Usually, they don’t accompany the assault and attack forces at all, let alone go onto the front lines as I was doing. I feel that I should be there if any of our guys get hit.
Although the role of combat medic was already well established in the American military, this was not the case in Rhodesia. Coey thus became a pioneer in the RLI: the first Rhodesian combat medic, and of this he was quite proud. Through it all, he continued to write about his experiences and warn those he met about the political and racial situation that whites faced worldwide.
John Alan Coey was killed in action on July 19, 1975 while tending to the wounds of two injured comrades. He was 24 years old.
Political activities in Rhodesia
Coey hoped that the prestige which came with a military career would cause others to take his political views more seriously. He submitted articles to the army publication Assegai, the Rhodesian business journal Property and Finance, and the South African Observer, a Pretoria-based racialist magazine. He was a friend and admirer of S. E. D. Brown, the Observer’s editor, and spent Christmas 1972 with the Brown family.
The articles that Coey wrote were intended as warnings to whites in Africa that the US was not their ally. Many white Africans assumed that since the US was the Soviet Union’s chief political foe and was supporting South Vietnam against the Communist North that Washington’s sympathies lay firmly with them and against the black revolutionaries. Coey tried his best to disabuse them of this notion. He faced backlash after one of his articles was published in Assegai in late 1973. He was told that any writing which criticized America were seen by the army as “subversive” because of concerns that it would hurt the morale of both soldier and civilian alike. Coey wrote in his journal: “Although what I have written is true, it is feared that the public may not be able to stand the truth.”
While Corporal Coey cared deeply for the Rhodesians, his journal entries and letters to his family back in Ohio often expressed disappointment in what he saw as a widespread Rhodesian naïveté about the dire nature of their situation. He knew that both the US and Western Europe had chosen moral posturing over assisting their racial kinsmen in opposing the black Marxist onslaught. He wished that the Smith government would take a harder line to ensure the continuation of white rule rather than making concessions to blacks, such as desegregating schools and increasing black representation in the Rhodesian parliament, which it agreed to in the misplaced hope that the US and the UK would warm to the nascent Rhodesian state. Coey was adamant that even a gradual abandonment of white rule would spell the end of civilization in southern Africa. In light of what has since become of both Zimbabwe and South Africa, Coey’s warnings can only be seen as prophetic.
The choice of Achilles
In the opening chapter of his journal, which was written before his college graduation, Coey describes that he “felt the urgency to find a reason to live.” A few months after arriving in Rhodesia, he described the army life as one under “total tyranny” and noted that his fellow soldiers had trouble understanding why he, a foreigner, had volunteered:
I can only say that I gave up my freedom for the sake of my family, families like mine, and the freedom of my people. My mates think I’m crazy for passing up good paying jobs in forestry or some other field, and volunteering for this wretched existence. But the experience is invaluable and will pay off in the long run. It will bring me to my destiny and life-purpose.
For Coey, merely living was not enough. To find fulfillment, he had to serve a cause that was greater than himself. His conscience would not allow him to be a bystander witnessing the West’s collapse; he needed to act. Further, he felt the need to take whatever action would allow him to pose the greatest threat to the forces arrayed against the West. In his Introduction to the journal, his brother Ed wrote that John “[s]urveyed the whole world in order to find one country that he thought to be honestly fighting communism and defending the heritage of the West.” Once he decided on Rhodesia, John wasted no time in getting there. For him, giving up everything was worth it if it would make a difference to his people.
The two causes closest to Coey’s heart were the Christian religion and the white race, and his dedication to both was nothing short of fanatical. Radical movements are always spearheaded by such people, and any movement would be fortunate to have a man such as Coey as an adherent. He possessed the capacity for single-minded dedication to a cause, as well as the emotional stability and foresight to consider the distant future. He thought in terms of years, generations, and eternity, as the great aristocrats and statesmen do.
University of Illinois Professor Revilo P. Oliver, one of the foremost racialist thinkers of the late twentieth century, told Coey that “[y]ours is the choice of Achilles.” Elaborating on this remark, Ed Coey wrote:
Those who have read the Homeric epic will recall that the Gods gave the Achaean hero, Achilles, a choice either to live a long life with little accomplishment, or to perish in battle at a young age, with everlasting glory.
Coey on Christianity
Christianity was central to Coey’s worldview, although his ideas about how Christians ought to conduct themselves in the political sphere were at odds with many of his co-religionists, then and now. He believed in the necessity for an active, fighting Christianity. One of the main complaints that he had about the Christians he encountered was their reluctance to involve themselves in the political fights of the day. He feared the consequences if Christians opted to “abandon the public professions to the non-believers.’. Coey attended several different churches throughout his time in Rhodesia, but found none to be satisfactory. On the state of Christianity in Rhodesia, Coey wrote:
It seems that nearly all the Christians and missionaries I have met in Rhodesia believe that their sole purpose is to witness for Christ. I have no objection to this whatsoever, but these people do nothing to oppose the evil forces of our time, such as communism or Socialist-Zionism.
On another occasion, Coey met a Christian man who opposed Communism but was unwilling to fight, believing that the Rhodesian cause would be rescued by the second coming of Christ. A dismayed Coey concluded that “Christianity for this man has destroyed his instinct for survival, his will to resist evil.” In contrast, Coey was of the opinion that “[p]rayer alone, without action, may be insufficient.” Christian Zionism was likewise popular among Rhodesian Christians, but for Coey the founding of the state of Israel was not the vindication of biblical prophecy.
Coey held that many churches had been subverted by the Internationalist conspiracy, but that a resurgence of true Christianity was exactly what white people needed most. He firmly believed that “Western civilization is based on Christianity,” and that “the West can be revived by a revival of faith. “A devout Christian such as Coey therefore had a responsibility to inspire his fellow believers to action. He worked to convince the Christians that he met that they ought to be “fighting for their Christian civilization” rather than “sitting idly by waiting for the end to come.”
In Coey’s mind, Christianity and racial consciousness were complementary. He expressed this clearly in his journal on November 4,1972:
It seems that under present conditions one cannot be a soldier without furthering the aims of the Internationalists, the liberals, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Zionists, or other alien groups. But I believe it is a Christian’s duty to oppose the enemies of his civilization just as much as it is to save souls.
He believed strongly that the fundamental conflict of his day was between Christianity and Communism, and that the West was facing “a crisis of faith.” He predicted that Communism would triumph if its opponents did not base their convictions on a spiritual foundation.
Coey on race
Coey affirmed the biological reality of race, and stated that it was entirely appropriate for biologically distinct groups to desire to remain that way. He was also of the view that civilizations built by one race could only be maintained by that race. While he does sometimes mention “whites” in his writings, he more often uses terms such as “Europeans” or “the West.” It is currently fashionable to believe that anyone, regardless of race, can be European or a part of the West by virtue of where he was born, or by adopting certain linguistic or cultural norms. But in the period before mass non-white immigration and the development of the taboo against white racial consciousness, this notion would have seemed utterly bizarre and nonsensical. There is every indication in Coey’s writings that when he mentions the West, he means whites and whites alone, and that for him the preservation of Western Civilization necessarily included the maintenance of white demographics and political power.
To describe Coey as an ethnonationalist or racial separatist is problematic, however, because he defended not only the presence of white minorities in Africa, but white rule in African-majority states. There are two instances in A Martyr Speaks where Coey defends colonialism. After living in Rhodesia for several months, Coey wrote that “I have no doubt that white rule of Africa is justified, because both African and European cultures can flourish under it.” He thought that introducing white culture and white political structures to Africa was acceptable so long as Africans had the option to maintain their own separate tribal communities and traditions apart from whites if they so wished, and such communities did indeed exist in Rhodesia. It was also true that black soldiers were allowed to join the Rhodesian military. For instance, there was the prestigious RAR (Rhodesian African Rifles) unit, in addition to racially-integrated units. Coey himself served alongside black soldiers and never once expressed any objection to doing so.
Expressions of outright hostility toward any race or nationality are absent from Coey’s writings. That said, however, Coey was undeniably chauvinistic about white racial achievements and held no illusions about any sort of natural equality between blacks and whites. This is shown most starkly when he encountered a tribal community near Rhodes Inyanga National Park:
I saw firsthand how the Africans live, away from European influence: barely scratching out an existence on grubby little farms, with round, one-room thatched-roof huts, and with chickens and naked children romping in the dust and filth.
On another occasion he wrote:
I am willing and eager to do my part of the bush fighting and to guard the borders, but peace won’t come until war is taken to the enemy, and he learns the fighting superiority of the European, the Western man, over the barbarian.
Not all of his comments on Africans were negative, however. Coey did call the Matabele people a “proud race,” and “very hospitable and likable.”
Coey was pleased to find that most white Rhodesians were racially conscious and firmly believed that
[t]he only hope is that the European here will rule his own government and not permit it to give in to the Internationalist pressures. Otherwise, he will lose the civilization that he built.
He never questioned that white civilization ought to be preserved, even in Europe’s African colonies. Of course, it would have been unacceptable to Coey if Africans had attempted to subjugate Europe and impose traditional African culture and political structures on white countries. No mention is made of any moral obligation to allow Africans the same right of national self-determination that Coey fervently believed was possessed by those of his own race.
Coey’s hope for the emergence of a spirit of pan-European racial solidarity as a bulwark against Communism should also be noted. He believed that this racial consciousness would transcend ethnic divisions among whites. While he did not call for all national boundaries within Europe to be abolished, nor did he disparage ethnic loyalties, he did place race firmly above ethnicity in order of importance. He held that all white peoples have much in common and that they share a common civilization which they all have a stake in defending. In June of 1972, he wrote:
Last week I was asked in a letter whether I am still happy in what I am doing. I replied that I have never been more satisfied than now, knowing that I opposed the aliens in the United States government, and that I am now playing a small role in the conflict between the West and Satan’s conspiracy. I am happy to be learning ways necessary to fight for our freedom. But, most of all, I am helping to unify the Europeans, simply by my presence and association with these people. For they are coming to realize that there is no important difference between Americans, White Africans, or Europeans. The accent, dialects and languages are superficial; the customs, religion, styles of government, and thinking are the same. I believe that only when all European peoples are unified can communism and the alien conspiracy be smashed.
This essay is of course no substitute for the real thing. I highly recommend reading A Martyr Speaks. Sadly, it is both rare and expensive, but if you are especially interested in Coey, or Rhodesia more generally, A Martyr Speaks is well worth the price.
John Alan Coey lived an unconventional life. No one forced him to go to Rhodesia. There were plenty of opportunities waiting for him had he stayed home, yet he left them all behind to fight for a country to which he had never been and where he didn’t know a soul. And yet, how exceptional his achievements in Rhodesia were! Having no prior medical training but then going on to become the first combat medic in a country’s history is itself an incredible story, and becomes even more so when we consider that he only did so because he was denied the opportunity to be an SAS officer.
Coey’s life provides a fine example of the virtues of perseverance and resilience. He achieved excellence in both body and mind, and was at the same time humble and self-sacrificing. A true warrior, he was exactly the kind of man a healthy society should strive to produce. His story comprises a tragic, yet glorious episode in the annals of our race.
* * *
Counter-Currents has extended special privileges to those who donate $120 or more per year.
- First, donor comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Second, donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Non-donors will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “Paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days.
- Third, Paywall members have the ability to edit their comments.
- Fourth, Paywall members can “commission” a yearly article from Counter-Currents. Just send a question that you’d like to have discussed to [email protected]. (Obviously, the topics must be suitable to Counter-Currents and its broader project, as well as the interests and expertise of our writers.)
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, sign up here:
Paywall Gift Subscriptions
- your payment
- the recipient’s name
- the recipient’s email address
- your name
- your email address
To register, just fill out this form and we will walk you through the payment and registration process. There are a number of different payment options.
Enjoyed this article?
Be the first to leave a tip in the jar!
Jonathan Bowden’s The Cultured Thug
The US Military Excuses an Anti-White Massacre: Black Soldiers & the Houston Riot of 1917
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 561: An All-Star Thanksgiving Weekend Special
Are We (Finally) Living in the World of Atlas Shrugged? Part 2
The Suppression of the Maryland Moderates During the Civil War
Black Friday Special: It’s Time to STOP Shopping for Christmas
Are We (Finally) Living in the World of Atlas Shrugged? Part 1
Nueva Derecha vs. Vieja Derecha, Capítulo 12: La Cuestión Cristiana en el Nacionalismo Blanco