NEW YORK CITY (AP)- John McClane, the reluctant but valiant dark horse of the New York City Police Department that became world renowned for his vigilant roles in foiling terrorist attacks at Nakatomi Plaza in L.A., Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. and The Federal Reserve in Manhattan, N.Y., as well as most recently cutting short an attempted “fire sale” attack by terrorist computer hackers on vital networks of the United States government, was remembered by his longtime friend and co-conspirator Al Powell as a hero that never stood down from a fight.
“John was the last cowboy… The last great hero America might ever know,” Powell told The Associated Press on Saturday. Powell, a Los Angeles Police Department officer that befriended McClane during the siege on L.A.’s Nakatomi Plaza in 1988, had remained a close friend since the attack and had counseled McClane through three consecutive attacks in the aftermath. “John was special, there was nobody like him.”
McClane died August 11, 2007 of heart failure. He was on a birthday outing, playing golf at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey with friends Zeus Carver and Matthew Farrell. His final words, according to Carver, were “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker,” as he teed off on the green at the beginning of the game. It was McClane’s favorite catch phrase, echoing his abject cowboy-ism and heroic exploits. At the time of death, McClane was still employed in the NYPD as a Detective Lieutenant, but was on medical leave. He had just turned 50.
His thirty years of service in the New York City Police Department demonstrated a lifetime of valor, exceptional service and a commitment to right the many wrongs of the world. McClane’s altruistic obligations additionally propelled his persona into the celebrity spotlight several times throughout out his life, beginning in 1988, when McClane battled international thieves in Los Angeles’ Nakatomi Plaza. Single handedly, McClane foiled an attempted heist by Eastern European terrorists to steal $640 million in bonds. The gang of 25 terrorists were killed or apprehended with minimal civilian casualties. All this was accomplished by McClane without the aid of the local police or FBI. Additionally, he was not wearing shoes during the siege and battled the terrorists barefoot.
Two years later, following a brief move to Los Angeles, McClane again unfolded a terrorist plot at Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport. A terrorist cell had attempted to hold approaching planes and their passengers and crew hostage until they could secure the release of a former Central American general drug lord. But the ensuing escape of the terrorists and drug lord was again, single handedly thwarted by McClane as their plane left the ground, killing everyone aboard. In the chaos, a British Airways jet was also lost, killing everyone aboard, a loss McClane had struggled to cope with for the past 17 years.
Five years later, McClane again found himself in the spotlight. After relocating back to New York City and rejoining the NYPD, McClane was specifically summoned by international thieves to do battle on the streets of New York City. McClane, along with the help of Harlem resident Zeus Carver, summarily defused bombs throughout the city, carefully placed by Eastern European thieves that that were attempting to rob the high-security vault in the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The defusing of the bombs saved countless lives, including thousands of school children throughout the five boroughs. The stolen gold was eventually traced to Montreal, Quebec, and McClane joined international police forces to apprehend the stolen gold, which was returned to the Federal Reserve Bank. The city suffered massive structural damage, but through McClane’s valiant efforts, many lives were saved.
McClane returned to the international spotlight earlier this year while shuttling Matthew Farrell, a computer hacker from New Jersey, to Washington, D.C. While picking up Farrell from his Camden, N.J. home, the duo encountered a team of assailants. McClane and Farrell escaped, unknowingly thrusting themselves into a U.S. born plot by mercenary hackers to shut down the U.S. government. Following power outages to most of the Eastern seaboard and massive damages to the infrastructure of the U.S. government, the terrorist plot was again thwarted by McClane, with help from Farrell and the FBI. During the chaos, McClane’s daughter was taken hostage by the terrorists, but she was eventually freed unharmed. McClane also suffered several gunshot wounds. Remarkably, it was his first wounds suffered during thirty years of gun battle. He had spent the past three months recuperating from his wounds.
The New York City native began his career with the NYPD at the age of 20, entering the force with a disregard for authority and a penchant for non-traditional police tactics. His destructive tendencies and laconic humor earned him a reputation as a “loose cannon” within the NYPD, characteristics which only began to serve him well starting with the Nakatomi siege of 1988. Though his vigilantism and disregard for authority put him in danger of losing his job more than once, he eventually won over his many detractors in the department through his palatial devotion to crusade against lawlessness, his brute ability to overcome physical pain and an exemplary but often undermined commitment to his family.
In 1986, McClane married Holly Gennaro. The couple had two children before separating in 1995. McClane remained single since the separation, claiming that his solitude was a result of becoming a “reluctant hero” in a recent interview with The Associated Press. Citing the state of his life, McClane says he often found himself in dangerous situations, “Because there is nobody else to do it.”
McClane is to be buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. later this week.
McClane is survived by two children John McClane, Jr., age 17, and Lucy McClane, age 20, and Kevin D’Arcy, a cousin.