CLIFFORD EUGENE “CLIFF” POPAY
March 24, 1944 – February 2, 2011
Cliff was born in Rome, GA on March 24, 1944 to Robert George Popay (1920-1976) and Sara Virginia Holder Popay (1923-2002). His father Robert served in the US Army during the latter part of WWII, just after they welcomed their newborn son Cliff. Perhaps the separation caused by the war was too much of a burden, because shortly after Dad’s return, they divorced. Cliff’s mother remarried in 1947 to his step father George F. Smith. Before her death in 2002, she was to marry 4 times. It is fair to speculate that when Cliff enlisted in the U.S. Army he was encouraged by the brothers he never had at home in Georgia.
In the early 1960s, Cliff married Nancy Suzanne Sturgeon Popay (1945 – 2005) in Rome, GA and had one son, Clifton Eugene (Cliff) Popay, Jr. (1966-2014) and two daughters Renee Popay Moore, Sonya Popay Keith
Despite having a two-year-old son, in 1968, Infantry Sgt. Cliff Popay volunteered for the elite 2nd Brigade LRRPs of the 4th Infantry Division, later to be re-designated K Co., 75th Rangers, to patrol the Kontum Province of the Central Highlands in Vietnam. Cliff was a highly regarded Team leader with few equals. His ferocity and courage in hostile engagements made being a member of his team an envious assignment. As much a professional, focused warrior in the field, he was an enjoyable, friend to all in basecamp between missions. Whether it was laying in the sun listening to the “tunes” playing on AF Radio, organizing a BBQ cookout, or just enjoying the comradery of his brother LRRP / Rangers, it was clear Cliff enjoyed his friends with the LRRPs. It was the feeling of brotherhood he carried with him until his last moments in this A.O. Cliff lived up to the legacy set by Rangers past and set high standards for the Rangers yet to come. Cliff was awarded the coveted Combat Infantryman’s Badge, only awarded to Infantrymen who faced the enemy in battle. Cliff, additionally, earned numerous other awards and decorations for his exemplary service.
Upon leaving the military, Cliff returned to his hometown of Rome, GA. In many instances, soldiers returned from Vietnam with wounds not readily visible or understandable to themselves or others. Insidiously, war had taken its toll on the relationship with his wife Nancy. As befell his parents before him, Cliff and Nancy divorced.
It would seem that the trait of longevity was not in the Popay family genes. Cliff’s father died at the age of 56 while the pride of Cliff’s life, that little boy he left at home in 1968, died in 2014 at the age of 48.
Clifford Eugene Popay, at the age of 66, died in Dahlonega, Georgia on February 2, 2011
Your brother Rangers wish you a well-earned and eternal peace
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!