This is part of a series celebrating Morecambe’s Finest, the personalities and unsung heroes who make our town great. Reporter GREG LAMBERT speaks to JACK TERCON whose incredible career in the Forces has been serialised in a new book.
From helping to raise the famous Mary Rose ship to braving the deserts of Southern Iraq during the second Gulf War, Jack Tercon has lived an exciting and dangerous life.
So much so, that Jack Tercon isn’t actually his real name.
Because of the confidential nature of his 30-year career in the services, Jack has published his life story under a pseudonym and has asked us not to reveal his true identity.
His new book ‘Just Add Water’ tells of how, as the very first army man to pass the entry requirements for the marine and air facets of one of the UK’s elite special forces, his skills, particularly as an underwater diver, took him all over the world.
“It’s a biography from where I started to present day, all linked by diving, recalling the adventures, humour, sadness, tragic and sometimes comical events of a long military career,” he said.
“I hope people will find it interesting as I don’t think there is anyone else in the district who has done the things I’ve done over a 30-year career.”
Jack, 52, grew up on the Blackberry Hall estate in Heysham, and was educated at St Peter’s Primary and Heysham High School before leaving town to join the Royal Engineers in 1978. He trained for a year at Dover and then spent three-and-a-half years in Northern Ireland.
One of the highlights of his early career came when he helped with the recovery of the Mary Rose, the Tudor ship which sank in 1545 in the Solent near the Isle of Wight, which was salvaged from the depths in 1982.
Afterwards he was stationed in Germany for six-and-a-half years, where he met the former Nazi deputy leader Rudolf Hess who was imprisoned in Spandau in Berlin.
“I was the local guard commander and there was a problem with his plumbing so we called out our plumber and went to see him,” said Jack.
“He was a little old man, his English was perfect and he was very courteous.”
Jack then spent four years with the airborne brigade, then two years as a staff sergeant and senior diving instructor at the Royal Engineers Diving Establishment in Portsmouth. In 1994 he volunteered for service with the UK Elite Units. During five years based with them he was the first army person to pass the USA Seal Swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV) course in 1995. The SDV is a miniature submarine used for clandestine operations.
Then in 2000 he was recalled back to the army, spending two years at the joint Defence Diving School at Portsmouth as a senior military instructor, carrying out a number of charity dives to support Wessex Cancer Trust in 2003. In 2002 he was commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers as a captain and spent two years at Maidstone as a second in command of a headquarters, during which time he was deployed to Cyprus and the Gulf.
After spending five years as Officer Commanding Officer (OC) of his old elite, he left the services in 2009 after a 30-year career. A dad of two and grandfather of three, Jack settled back in the local Lancaster area with his wife of 32 years and pets including two tortoises.
For the last four years Jack has been a test pilot and navigator for a ship building company specialising in small underwater vehicles.
‘Just Add Water’ is available as an e-book on Amazon and will be out in print by the end of the month.