Soldier's brother saw death blast
Published 11/03/2011 | 06:32
The younger brother of a British soldier killed in a landmine blast in southern Afghanistan was one of the first on the scene after the explosion.
Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, who died in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province when his vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), served alongside his brother Michael in 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment.
He was close by when the bomb detonated on Wednesday and rushed to the stricken armoured truck.
L/Cpl McKee is the second member of his family to die in the line of duty. His uncle, Richard, a member of the UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment), was murdered by the IRA during the Northern Ireland Troubles in 1981.
L/Cpl McKee, 27, from Banbridge, Co Down, had strong family connections with the regiment. As well as his brother, his cousin and father-in-law also serve in the 1st Battalion, with another brother serving in the 2nd Battalion.
The soldier was described as a "doting husband and family man" who had showed "enormous strength" after his two-day-old daughter died last year.
He leaves behind his wife, Carley, his parents, Heather and Bobby, his brothers, Michael, Gareth and Robert, and his sisters, Kelly and Rebecca.
Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs McKee said: "You will always be my hero and every step I take in life I will have my two angels looking after me. You truly are the best husband, father, son and brother anyone could ask for. Till we meet again. Love you always."
Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir MBE, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, said L/Cpl McKee's death had "sent a wave of shock and sadness" through the battlegroup.
He added: "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 families like the McKees that we are the winners in this fight."