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  • Christina Drummond

Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2011, Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan, a few weeks after his deployment. He was on an operation in the northern Dashte area of Nad ‘Ali district when his vehicle struck an IED. He had joined 3rd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment as a part-time soldier; when the Home Service disbanded he transferred to 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment. He first deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and was quickly recognised as a fine soldier, trustworthy and courageous. He had strong family connections with the regiment, with two brothers, a cousin and his father-in-law all serving in the First Battalion, and another brother serving in the Second Battalion.

Major Gregory Murphy said: “The death of Lance Corporal McKee comes as a most profound loss. Rarely would you find someone as conscientious, generous, hard- working and as professional as Stephen. I remember my first meeting with him when he was commanding the opposing force on my Company exercise. The first thing that struck me was his disarming smile, the second that unflaggingly positive character of his. Regardless of his own discomfort or the adverse conditions crippling those around him, there would be Stephen with that bloody grin of his. He was a popular and endeared leader within the Company and whilst he was easy to like, he was a man that was even easier to respect. He was destined for greater things and had just completed his Machine Gun Section Commanders Course, determined to do the best he could, to stand shoulder to shoulder with his mates and to serve his country proudly. And this he did. Stephen gave his life doing the job he loved. He was a committed, brave and selfless leader that thought nought of himself and everything of those around him.” And from his CO: "It is families like the McKees that make this Regiment what it is; they are the fibre that runs through us and what gives us our fighting spirit. It is because of them that we are the winners in this fight. Stephen McKee was the finest of men; he was irrepressible, he was utterly reliable and he was a fearsome warrior. Not only was he the finest of Irish soldiers, he was a man with great depths of resilience."

Stephen, from Banbridge in Co. Down, was 27 years old and married.

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