David “Davie” Sweeney.
(b. 4/10/1949 d. 29/8/2007)
Courage, Determination, Unselfishness, and Cheerfulness in the face of adversity. These traits are known collectively to all recruits, when they take on the rigours of Commando training, as the Commando Spirit. Every Bootneck has them, some, individually or collectively, more than others. It is what makes us “Royal”, it is the ethos of the Green Beret. But there is another that is held in far greater regard, for without it the rest mean not so much, and the guy’s that served with Davie knew it well. While asking his peers for their thoughts on Davie, the one, same quality raised itself time and time again, “You could depend on Davie, he was reliable.” The ‘buddy, buddy’ system doesn’t mean a hell of a lot if you cannot rely on your Oppo. The man doesn’t represent the beret, the beret is a measure of the man. Just as stripes do not a sergeant make, rather, they are generally representative of his achievements and abilities, recognised and deemed worthy of such merit by his peers. In most cases this distinction is well judged and recognised which was certainly true with regard to Davie. The quiet man with the virtually silent sense of humour, the only tell was usually a sudden burst of laughter from those lucky enough to be within earshot as he fired off a well timed comedic line or two that captured the moment and put into words the thoughts the rest of us were still trying to formulate around a sticky situation or circumstance. But if quick to see the humour in a moment of minor crisis, Davie was doubly quick in stepping up to the plate to see the job done. Davie was not a, ‘good weather commando’, we all know them, Davie took the role of Marine as seriously as a heart attack. He did not shirk his responsibilities, and, when tasked as a Radio Operator, he did not drip or grouse but took the role on with his usual professionalism and attention to detail. The A41, the battlefield radio of the day, weighed in at an additional eighteen and a half pounds of kit, with extra batteries another eight and a half pounds each.
He likewise did his stint at Arctic Warfare Training, one of the hardest and one of the most satisfying roles within the Corps,during the seventies and eighties. If you can administer your personal admin, function, and still do your job in minus forty or so, then Woodbury Common doesn’t rate as much of a hardship. For this reason, although no longer a NATO commitment, the Corps and other bodies, still use the Northern Norway theatre in winter, as a superb, and very singular, training facility, still. As his career progressed, Davie took these same qualities, skills, and his dedicated work ethic with him, into his role as a Coxswain with II Raiding Squadron. It cannot be stressed, anywhere near adequately enough, what it means to a marine on the ground, having made his way, usually with great expenditure of physical effort and endurance, to make a Rendezvous (RV) at an allocated time, generally to meet with a welcome mode of transport, that the other party had made a similar effort, to keep to their end. Yet again, it has been said time and time again, “You could depend on Davie, he was reliable,”and in the unlikely event that Davie wasn’t there, you could reassure yourself that the reason, whatever it turned out to be, would not be Davie’s fault. Of course all job’s have their perks and a fellow Coxswain, who worked alongside Davie, regaled us with a ‘dit’. Having dropped off their deployment of marines, while on exercise in Cyprus, they then studiously, without any prompting from further up the chain of command, took it upon themselves to utilise the considerable time they had, before their next task, to locate, identify, and reconnoitre a number of PH’s along the coastline, on the Turkish side of the island. Such local knowledge, it was always stressed, is a vital and necessary component in the war of, ‘Hearts and Minds’. Never far from the heart of a yomping marine, and almost always, on his mind. Having made a thorough, and detailed survey, of various suitable locations, they were there, a couple of days later, to extricate their party, in the quiet, still, chill of a Cyprus morning, just before the dawn. They had risen that morning, an hour earlier, than the time required, to check and test their amphibious kit and craft, before making the RV on time and in good order, to allow themselves an added time, to secure and muster, a Billy of hot coffee to greet their charges, as they eagerly clambered aboard their waiting craft. Aaah! To cup, and sup, a hot steaming mug of coffee, laced generously, with a bottle or two, of local brandy. Nothing says ‘Endex’, better than that. This is what it means when they say, “Once a marine, always a marine!” Davie and company, did not forget, having been in the same circumstance many times themselves before, the physical effort and mental discipline required, and expected, of a marine on the ground, while looking to maintain and upkeep morale, amidst the daily grind of commando soldiering. No poncy, overpriced Latte or Cappuccino, would ever hit that mark. While there is a tendency to overlook and forego, the foibles and failings of comrades who have crossed the bar, there is no such stretch of effort needed with reference to Davie. Oh, he undoubtedly had his moments, along with the best and the rest of us, but Davie was a man, and a marine, who had earned and deserved, the respect of all, and any, who were privileged to work, and play, alongside of him. Davie was one of the good guy’s. That is how he will be remembered, and, that is why he is still, and always will be, missed. Stand Easy Royal.