It is with the regret, that springs from a heavy heart, that I post the passing of Ex CSM, A.T.M. O’Pray, M.B.E..
I met Andy O’Pray, just as I began my time with the Corps, and just as he was ending his. Therefore, in deference, it would be remiss of me, to even attempt, to pass comment on a man, with such a long and full career. Other than to express, my regret at his sudden passing, and to pay my utmost respect, for a career that took him from Aden, to Northern Ireland, where he stopped a round in the New Lodge, in 1972, to the RMR, at Eglington Toll, where he sank a few rounds at the Plaza.
But I will give you a dit at my expense. I remember too well that keen bootneck humour. The straight, “I dare you” face, when I asked the name of the new PW, who was to put me through a TOET on the gun. He pointed out a big black guy who was “pussered up” trying hard to impose himself at his new draft. “Brown!”, he dared me. Now, I was a smart young marine, I wasn’t going to bite on that one. I called his bluff, I told him so, in a confidant matter of fact fashion, ending with “Sergeant Major”, to keep me right, within the boundaries of military decorum, I was self assured and confidant, I had a pile, three ‘Jack the lad’s’. Alas, I was barely out of the box and I had failed to realise, that he was a CSM, because he had, most definitely, forgotten more than I had ever managed to learn, or probably ever would. It was all in, I had called him, he showed his hand, a full house, aces over king’s, “Sergeant Brown”, he shouted out. Now, I don’t have a son, but if I had and he took me aside one night and told me he was gay, and that he had just been elected as the Tory MP for Maryhill, then I know exactly, the shock, I would feel, only not as extreme. Buster Brown, as I suddenly realised, was indeed the good sergeants name and Mister O’Pray had just played me like Rolf Harris on the didgeridoo. However, I was never to be taken quite so comprehensively ever again and for that I thank you Sergeant Major, lesson learned. Therefore, I will leave it there, for those who knew him much better, much less or not at all, to leave your own tributes, RIP Royal.