A commemorative plaque has been unveiled at Dromore High School in memory of a former pupil who died whilst serving in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Stephen McKee (27), from 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, was killed back in March 2011, when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Helmand Province.
The school held a special Remembrance Assembly last Wednesday (November 8) to unveil the plaque in the school foyer.
Headmaster Mr Ian McConaghy said: “In our annual remembrance activities, we endeavour to instil in our pupils the importance of remembrance and gratitude for those who serve to protect our freedoms. This year the service is especially poignant and meaningful as we remember one of our own pupils, Lance Corporal Stephen McKee who attended our school until June 2000.
“The McKee’s are very much a Dromore High family and it was most satisfying to see Mr and Mrs McKee unveil this plaque which will serve as a permanent reminder of Stephen and his sacrifice.”
Mr and Mrs McKee were joined by Stephen’s brother Michael, members of the Board of Governors and the local Dromore Branch of the Royal British Legion.
Michael addressed the pupils in assembly with a very moving account of his brother Stephen which was appreciated of everyone present.
Speaking to the Leader, Colin Cunningham of Dromore Royal British Legion said: “We were very privileged and honoured to be there. We met his parents and his brother. It was very memorable.”
Stephen is survived by his wife Carely and his siblings.
Shortly after his death, Carely led the tributes to her husband in a statement on the Ministry of Defence website. She 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.”
In 2003 Stephen joined 3rd Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment as a part-time soldier. When the Home Service were disbanded he decided to transfer to 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment and he joined them at Tern Hill, Shropshire, in April 2007.
Lance Corporal McKee was posted to B Company, where he served with distinction for three years before moving to the Machine Gun Platoon in D Company in 2010.
He first deployed on Operation Herrick 8 in March 2008 and was quickly recognised as a fine soldier, trustworthy and courageous.