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21 January 2014

He Will Not Be Forgotten: Capt. Paul McKay, Another Son Lost To Afghanistan

Capt Paul McKay

On Thursday, 16 January 2014, the Afghanistan War claimed another Australian life: that of Captain Paul McKay. He was to die, twelve thousand miles from Afghanistan, atop a mountain in the lonely, cold Adirondack hills in New York state. He was 31 years old.

The cost of war marches on beyond the dusty battlefields of distant lands: it is counted, one life at a time, as our soldiers return to an unwelcoming public that does not understand them, to a community that would rather forget. They too would like to forget, as we do, like switching off the television or turning the page of the newspaper, but they don't have that luxury.

Paul was a Captain in the Australian Army. He was on duty the day an Afghan soldier opened fire on a contingent of Australian soldiers, killing three. They were his men.

What happened after that, to Paul, is anyone's guess.

The cost of command is high. Sometimes, too high.

All we know for sure is that at Christmas time, in the cold New York winter, Paul took to the Adirondack Hills after leaving his father a goodbye note.

His body was found by a park ranger atop a mountain. He had only only the clothes on his back and a blanket. He succumbed to the cold at the top of the world.

His pain, a pain he found he could not bear anymore, must now become our pain: we need to take this, hold onto it, so that we never forget another brave Australian who fought and died for his country.

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