Alexander Blackman (Big Al) grew up in Brighton with his mum, dad, two sisters and a brother. He always loved sports, playing rugby, running and enjoying family skiing holidays. As well as achieving his swimming life-saving certificate, he was a keen and successful canoeist, competing for his country and participating in national events, such as the annual Exe Descent in Devon, the Devizes to Westminster international canoe race and the annual Liffey Descent in Ireland.
After leaving school, Al worked on a dairy farm where he was responsible for pasteurising milk. He joined the Royal Marines after taking his little sister to the Army recruitment office. (Incidentally, she didn’t sign up!)
Al joined the Royal Marines aged 23. During training he was awarded a diamond and passed out in the top three of his recruit troop. As a newly qualified Marine he was drafted to Alpha Company at 40 Commando in Taunton. After six months he undertook his Anti-Tanks course and moved to Support Company (40 CDO) for three years. After completing his Junior Command Course, Al joined Delta Company (40 CDO) as a Corporal, where upon he was deployed to the Gulf War on Telic 1.
After returning from Iraq, Al was drafted to Faslane, Scotland, where he provided protection to the movement of Britain’s nuclear submarines before being deployed back to the Iraq war on Teliq 5.
After completing his Senior Command Course and the Anti-Tanks ‘Ones’ course, Al returned to 40 Commando as a Sergeant and to Iraq on Teliq 7. He was then deployed to Afghanistan with Alpha Company on Herrick 7. On his return he joined the Central Training Team at CTCRM in Lympstone for two years. He was then drafted to 42 Commando (J Company) for deployment to Afghanistan on Herrick 14 and promoted to Colour Sergeant.
On return from Afghanistan, Al was drafted to OPTAG, a joint-operation Tri-Service operational training and advisory group responsible for preparing troops for deployment to Afghanistan.
Al married Claire in Somerset in 2009 and is a doting uncle to seven nephews and nieces. He remains a keen sportsman and would squeeze in a round of golf at any opportunity, including playing for the Corps Championships. He had recently discovered an interest in triathlons and would cycle the 38 miles to work at CTCRM as part of his training.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Whilst we continue to fight his case, he continues to work hard and takes every opportunity to set new records in the gym. He is now hoping to make the best use of his time by undertaking a degree course.