On my most recent trip to Afghanistan I spent a night sleeping on a cot under the unimaginably bright sky of a country with almost no electric lighting to drown out the stars. The venue was the back yard of Combat Outpost Shkarre, in a neighbourhood near the town of Nakhonay the Taliban had held five months earlier. The three dozen soldiers I was travelling with, enlisted men and women to very senior officers, slept on cots all around. This was still dangerous country but we didn’t worry about our safety because we were watched over by the soldiers of 11 Platoon of Delta Company of the Edmonton-based 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, which meant that while we stayed in that camp, no harm would come to us.
Over the weekend I received word that Private Kevin Thomas McKay, who on Thursday became the 144th Canadian soldier to die on the mission to Afghanistan, was one of the young men and women who kept us safe in that camp on that cool April night. For him it was one night out of hundreds. I thank Private McKay for his work and I mourn his passing.