LANCE CORPORAL JON McKinlay would have been celebrating his thirty-eighth birthday today, had he not been killed by a hidden Taliban gunman in Nahr-e Saraj, Afghanistan.
L/Cpl McKinlay was part of a joint British Army/Afghan National Army patrol, and the men had gone firm for a few moments to allow the Afghan element to pray. As Jon took out his compass to find east for them – a simple act of friendship – his attention was diverted and the gunman open-fired.
He left behind Lisa, his second wife, and her little girl Piper (whom Jon had raised as his own), his mum Valerie and a daughter and step-son, Megan and Olly, from his first marriage.
Megan – who was twelve when her dad died in 2011 – spoke to Graham Bound about Jon (as did Lisa, Valerie and a number of his Army mates) for our book At The Going Down Of The Sun.
She told Graham how she liked to remember her teaching her to ride her bike, and taking her rock-climbing.
‘One memory that makes me smile still is the time, when I was seven, when I swallowed a ring,’ she told Graham. ‘Dad rushed me to the hospital, and they said that if it didn’t pass through me, they’d have to operate. Dad had the job of checking to see if I’d passed it! He found it the day before they were due to operate on me. Dad always laughed about this and said that it was an example of true love.
‘In a way, now, after three years, it’s a lot easier to cope with, because I’ve got used to knowing that he was killed. But only in a way. I think about dad all the time. I have lots of pictures of him in my room, so I see him every day. I feel sad when I think about him, but I have memories and pictures. I wish I had more. I’m very proud of my dad. He is my hero.’
It was and is an honour to be able to tell LCpl Jon McKinlay’s story, the more so as Remembrance Day approaches.
Jon and Megan
Jon and Lisa on their wedding day
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