Soldier takes on the devil within
The West Australian
May 12, 2013
When John Rankin was five years old, he watched his mother try to take her own life.
Then, placed in the care of relatives for years after that traumatic incident, he was sexually abused.
Later, while serving with the secretive and elite SAS Regiment, he experienced incidents and witnessed horrors he is still reluctant to talk about.
On home soil in Australia, he survived a plot to murder him and walked into the middle of the grisly climax to one of the nation's worst gun massacres.
Death, and the worst that life can throw at a man, are familiar adversaries for the 58-year-old retired soldier.
But the war Mr Rankin almost lost was not against enemy fighters or those who wished him harm.
It was a war against what he calls "the devil inside".
He fought it when he went on to help train the Sydney Swans and the Fremantle Dockers.
He fought it at home. He is still fighting it today.
Mr Rankin's story is not about winning or losing. It is about finding moments of joy and love while the battle still rages.
The details of his extraordinarily hard life, and how he has managed to survive and find reasons to smile, are topics he will share next month at the annual Men in Black Ball to support men's mental health. He hopes his story of survival will help others keep fighting.
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