MIDHURST Rother College fell silent on Armistice Day to remember a brave and heroic young man who died while serving in Afghanistan.
In a poignant ceremony, family members and Royal Marines watched as a plaque was unveiled in honour of Corporal David O’Connor, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, who died while on patrol in Helmand Province on October 24, 2012.
Cpl O’Connor’s brother, Philip, 26, said David’s legacy continued to inspire generations.
“I’m honoured, and proud, this memorial is here.
“There have been lots of plaques unveiled in his name, so David is going to be remembered in lots of places. The school has been fantastic and this is really good for the children - it’s inspiring and good motivation for them.”
The 27-year-old was shot while on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he was training Afghan police.
He was killed alongside Corporal Channing Day from 3 Medical Regiment.
David’s mother Rosemary said: “David spent all his leave in Midhurst.
“This was a beautiful ceremony and it was lovely to have some of 40 Commando here. It was very special.”
David went to Midhurst Primary and Intermediate Schools as well as the grammar school, which is now Midhurst Rother College.
He also served in the Midhurst detachment of the Army Cadet Force.
His father, George, praised the efforts of everyone at the ceremony.
“It’s so nice to see the lads from his unit here,” he said.
“The bugler did a great job, as did the children with the readings.
“David was a third generation Royal Marine. His grandfather served with the marines and I did nine years as a bugler.”
Principal Dr Joe Vitagliano said David continued to be remembered with affection by the community.
“The plaque is a way of remembering David’s contribution to his country,” he said.
“We wanted to find the best way of doing that. He was a very well liked young man in this community.”
Captain Mike O’Kelly was chairman of governors at Midhurst Grammar School, and served in the Royal Navy for 34 years.
He said: “All those in David’s command speak in glowing terms of his inspiring leadership, personal bravery, skill as a leader, and his humour.
“He was a truly remarkable person, and a gallant man.”
See all the pictures from the ceremony in this week’s Observer (November 13).