Widow of Dorset Soldier Pays Tribute

Tribute's are paying paid to a Dorset-born soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Jonathan James McKinlay was shot dead on Wednesday 14th September 2011.

The Ministry of Defence had this statement and tribute on their website:

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Lance Corporal Jonathan James McKinlay, of B Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan on 14 September 2011.

Lance Corporal McKinlay deployed to Afghanistan as a battle casualty replacement in June 2011, having recently qualified as a Bravo Mortar Fire Controller. He was based in Checkpoint Chaabak in the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

He was killed by a burst of small arms fire on Wednesday, 14 September 2011, while on patrol with his team and members of the Afghan Uniform Police (AUP) in a village near to his checkpoint.

An outgoing and friendly commander, and very much a 'doer' about his checkpoint, he had time for everyone he met. His nature made him a truly outstanding instructor, producing many excellent recruits while at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick. His forthcoming and happy approach will be sorely missed across the Battalion.

Lance Corporal McKinlay leaves behind a loving family - his wife, Lisa, his mother, Valerie, sister, Becca, and his children, Megan, Ollie and Piper. The thoughts and prayers of the Battlegroup are very much with them at this painful time.

LCpl McKinlay's wife, Lisa, paid the following tribute:

"We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Jonathan, affectionately known as 'JJ', also known as 'Commander Meerkat McKinlay'. He was a loving husband, son, brother, son-in-law and father to Megan, Ollie and Piper. He was a true friend to others and a loving husband, a real joker and my one in a million."

LCpl McKinlay's mother, Valerie, paid the following tribute:

"Rebecca and I are devastated, as are the rest of the family. Jonathan was dearly loved by us all and by his many friends around the world."

Lieutenant Colonel James de Labillière DSO MBE, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES), said:

"Lance Corporal Jon McKinlay deployed to Afghanistan for the second time on 22 June 2011. He was based in Checkpoint Chaabak where he was responsible for calling in mortar fire to support the patrols he worked with. On the evening of 14 September, whilst patrolling with his Multiple and his Afghan Uniformed Police partners, he was fatally struck by enemy gunfire.

"To anyone who met him, Lance Corporal Jon McKinlay made an instant impression. On the one hand a hard professional soldier who demanded the very highest standards from himself and his men, and yet, on the other, a man of great compassion, humour, and somebody who had time for others. He had irrepressible energy and was industrious to the core.

"Lance Corporal McKinlay had enjoyed a career of great variety in the Army, and was highly qualified as a result. His most recent accomplishment was qualifying as a mortar fire controller, the course for which he had to attend whilst the tour in Afghanistan also started, to his frustration.

"As was his professional focus he did not let his friends' departure distract him. He passed with a Distinction and an eager appetite to get back onto the front line, which he did, just under two weeks after qualifying.

"He was a man of great character, agile of mind, and he was not afraid to express a considered opinion when the opportunity arose. I valued his judgement, his energy, his creativeness and his professionalism. He also represented his boys well, as he did the Corporals' Mess when he was President of the Mess Committee.

"And what a tremendous addition he was to the checkpoint and to the platoon he worked with. He set the tone of the place: it was immaculately run but enriched by his personal touch. He made a barbeque to improve their quality of life, naming it 'JJ's Bar and Grill', setting himself up as the head chef for the team which he did enthusiastically.

"He took delight in doing things for others to make their lives more comfortable. And he was a real grafter, happy to help out in any scenario, no matter how big or small the contribution required.

"1 RIFLES have lost a fantastic Battalion character and a highly accomplished soldier. LCpl Jon McKinlay will never be forgotten. His name joins the list of RIFLES fallen who, through their sacrifice, provide our daily inspiration and motivation for the work we do.

"But at this time of inconceivable anguish and grief for his family, it is to them our thoughts and prayers go.

"Swift and Bold."