Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Soldier buried next to his daughter

The coffin of Lance Corporal Stephen McKee is carried during his funeral in Banbridge, Co Down
Lance Corporal Stephen McKee was killed in Afghanistan

A British soldier killed in a landmine blast in Afghanistan has been laid to rest beside his baby daughter.

Lance Corporal Stephen McKee was buried with full military honours almost a year to the day after the death of his newborn child Keeley.

An estimated 10,000 mourners brought Banbridge, Co Down, to a standstill with all shops closing as a mark of respect. Among them was Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson.

The Royal Irish Regiment soldier and his daughter were reunited in the town's New Cemetery following an emotional funeral service at the nearby Holy Trinity Church.

Church of Ireland Archdeacon John Scott told mourners the 27-year-old had died trying to do good in a "messy world".

"Stephen and Keeley have gone on ahead," he said. "May we all, especially those who cherished him most, live in the faith of meeting again and honour his memory in the service of others as he did."

Lance Corporal McKee died in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on March 9. His younger brother Michael, who served alongside him in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish, was one of the first on the scene after the deadly blast.

Michael was among soldiers who carried his coffin.

His body was repatriated to the UK on St Patrick's Day (March 17) when family and friends wore bunches of shamrock as they lined the High Street in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, to watch the cortege pass through the town.

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