Belfast Telegraph

Ranger who died fighting the Taliban will arrive home today

By Lesley-Anne Henry

The body of a Royal Irish Regiment soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan is due to be repatriated back to the UK today.

Lance Corporal Stephen McKee (27) from Banbridge died after his armoured vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device during an operation to disrupt the Taliban last Wednesday.

His remains are expected to be flown into RAF Lyneham later this afternoon.

L/Cpl McKee’s widow Carley, his parents Heather and Bobby and other relatives are due to make the journey from their home to the Wiltshire airbase for a private ceremony.

They are also expected to join hundreds of people lining the streets of Wootton Bassett as the cortege passes through the market town on its way to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

In a statement released this week the McKee family described the young soldier as “a brilliant son” who lived for the Army.

“As parents, we are so proud of everything he achieved in his short life,” the statement said.

“He was a wonderful and loving husband to Carley and an amazing brother. Above all that, Stephen was a soldier and we as a family take great comfort from the fact he died doing a job he loved.

“Stephen’s life was the Army and we have been touched by the many tributes people have paid.”

In Afghanistan, where his younger brother Michael is still serving, comrades from the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment held a memorial service at Camp Bastion airfield before the C-17 aircraft departed for the UK.

A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out before L/Cpl McKee’s body is returned to his family.

A date for a funeral service has yet to be fixed.

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