“My name is John Steele. I’ve been called ‘Jack’ at various times in my life.”
Those were the opening two sentences of an absolutely amazing e-mail I received last night. It seems that I received an e-mail from a real John “Jack” Steele.
Now get this:
Like Sergeant Steele, this John Steele is an Adjunct Professor of Law.
Like Sergeant Steele, this John Steele is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.
So, there I was reading an e-mail from John “Jack” Steele, who is an Adjunct Professor of Law and who is a graduate of Georgetown Law School. What a farookin’ coincidence!! You could have knocked me over with a feather.
He noted in his e-mail, that he had learned about the Master Sergeant John “Jack” Steele stories from a professor at the Law School, who presumably was also taken with the coincidence. We have since exchanged several e-mails, and I learned, among other things, that this John Steele practices in law in a San Francisco law firm when he is not teaching Legal Ethics (Please, no oxymoron jokes – I get those as a lawyer and a former military intelligence guy). Here’s another kicker. He teaches at UCal Berkeley! (Boalt Hall Law School).
In response to his question asking how I settled in on the character’s name, I explained that I wanted a one syllable last name (one syllable rolls nicely after “sergeant”) that connoted something hard. I may have been influenced by my memories of a boyhood friend who was a reader of “Sergeant Rock” comic books. “Steele” was a natural. As for the John “Jack” part, I explained that in selecting that name, I paid a bit of a tribute to Cousin Jack (real name – John – but he was and is always called “Jack”), who is a Law Professor at Lewis and Clark Law School and who got me blogging in the first place. (As I was writing the e-mail, it occurred to me that I never shared that fact with Cousin Jack. So, now he knows.)
This John Steele noted that other writers of fiction have been fond of the name “John Steele” for their macho characters. For example, he pointed me to a one-issue comic book with the title, “John Steele, Secret Agent,” and to a couple “B” movies, “Steele Justice” (John Steele, Vietnam Vet, returns to Vietnam to seek revenge against the corrupt Vietnamese politician for killing Steele’s friend), and “Steele’s Law” (John Steele, this time a detective, travels to Texas to hunt down and kill a crazy assassin whose weapon of choice is a sword). Equally as macho is the “action figure” Corporal John Steele of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Oh yeah, I learned one more amazing thing. I assume that you are familiar with the story of the paratrooper who, on the night before D-Day, parachuted into the French village of Ste Mere Eglise, only to end up dangling from the church steeple in the middle of the village (Red Buttons played the part in the movie “The Longest Day”). To this day, there is a parachute and a dummy on the church steeple commemorating the event. The paratrooper’s name? Yep. John Steele.
I am most happy to report that this John “Jack” Steele, Adjunct Professor of Law enjoyed reading about Master Sergeant John “Jack” Steele, the gott-damned Adjunct Professor of Law, and even suggested having Sergeant Steele teach a class at Berkeley. Verrrry interesting idea, there. There even has been talk of getting together for a beer the next time my job takes me to the Left Coast. I look forward to it.
Of course, I’ll be checking to be sure that his gott-damned gig-line is squared away.