Belfast Telegraph

Tributes flood in for Derry Afghan veteran killed in North Yorkshire crash

By Donna Deeney

Tributes have been paid to Londonderry soldier Trooper Mark McKeen (23), who died along with a comrade in a road traffic collision in North Yorkshire, close to their military base.

Trooper McKeen, who served two tours in Afghanistan, attended Lisneal College with the Deputy Mayor of Derry, Gary Middleton, who described him as a man who had no difficulty making friends.

As the family make final preparations for the funeral of the young soldier, his commanding officer, Major Hugh Pearce-Gould, praised his dedication to the Army.

He said: “Trooper Mark McKeen was a first-class soldier who had served with great courage and dedication on two difficult and dangerous tours of Afghanistan.”

From his early days at Lisneal College in the Waterside area of Londonderry, it was clear to those who knew him that he had a deep desire to be a soldier.

Mr Middleton said: “We had both joined the Army Cadet Force, and gone away on many structured weekends with the rest of the detachment, but right from those early days it was clear to everyone that he was destined for a career in the Army.

“As he made his way through each year at Lisneal College he focused on becoming a soldier and he was keen and determined to do that.

“I have no doubt he would have been well-liked and respected among his comrades because he had that type of personality. He was extremely easy to get along with and had a wide circle of friends at school.

“It is so sad that having survived two tours of duty in Afghanistan he would lose his life in a road traffic collision so close to his base.”

Lisneal College principal David Funston offered condolences to Trooper McKeen's family.

He said: “I recall Mark as a very popular and personable young man. It is such a tragedy that someone so young, with everything in front of him has passed away.”

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