Corporal Kevin Megeney
Cpl Ronald Kevin Megeney was born on 18 January 1982 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. He grew up in Stellarton and knew from an early age that he wanted to join the Canadian Armed Forces. He joined the Nova Scotia Highlanders, a reserve unit, on 10 March 1999 when he was 17 and still in high school. He graduated from Stellarton High School in 2000.
Cpl Menegey, who came from a multi-generational military family, began his training in Nova Scotia and then in New Brunswick and Alberta. In 2004, he trained with the U.S. Marines. The reservist volunteered to serve in Afghanistan in December 2006. He joined a defence and security platoon at Kandahar Airfield.
He was excited to be there and excited to be serving in Afghanistan. He was always the first up in the morning. Dressed in his desert fatigues and ready for the coming day, he’d let his comrades know it was time to get going by blasting his music.
Described as a joker, a gentleman and a loyal friend, Cpl Menegey believed in Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. He saw it as a way to help others.
Tragically, Cpl. Menegey died 6 March 2007 after a fellow soldier, Matthew Wilcox, accidentally shot him in the chest while in their tent at Kandahar Airfield. Four Canadian soldiers rushed Cpl Megeney to the combat surgical hospital on base where doctors, including Dr Kevin Patterson, a Canadian surgeon and a civilian volunteer, attempted to save Cpl Megeney.
In a 2007 issue of Mother Jones magazine, Dr Patterson, a former Canadian Forces captain and medical officer, related Cpl Megeney’s last minutes in excruciating and heartbreaking detail as part of a long story he wrote based on the journal he kept while working at the Kandahar Airfield hospital.
After admitting that Cpl Megeney had been without a pulse for too long, the doctors, along with Dr Patterson, finally stopped. He writes, "The room freezes as we all realize he (another doctor) is right."
Unlike many of the other soldiers he wrote about, Dr Patterson mentioned Cpl Megeney by name, leading to a military investigation and a formal reprimand and fine from the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons for breaching patient confidentiality.
Dr Patterson defended his decision to identify Cpl Menegey by name. He stated that as it was a high-profile incident covered in the news across Canada, readers would have immediately known who he was writing about, even if Cpl Menegey was not identified.
"...to understand the extent of the ongoing sacrifice of the troops," Dr Patterson wrote in 2007 explaining why he wrote what he did. "I believe that strong language is necessary. If the public is to get a sense of the price being paid on our behalf by these young men and women, it is necessary to face with open eyes the grotesque nature of war trauma".
A military judge sentenced Matthew Wilcox of Glace Bay, Newfoundland, the young reservist who shot Cpl Menegey, to four years in jail after convicting him of criminal negligence causing death. In sentencing Wilcox, however, the judge also blamed military leaders for lax firearms discipline at Kandahar Airfield.
For his part, Wilcox, a former corporal with the Nova Scotia Highlanders, claimed during the court martial he fired his 9mm Browning pistol instinctively in self-defence. He stated that he heard a pistol being loaded and believed someone was pointing the weapon at him. Wilcox, who was part of a group tasked with guarding the KAF gates, admitted that he failed to remove a loaded magazine from his pistol before returning to the tent he shared with Cpl Megeney. Canadian soldiers were not permitted to have their weapons loaded while on base.
A gut-wrenching situation for all involved, Wilcox, who said the entire incident happened in all of a second, described Cpl Menegey as one of his best friends.
In 2016, students at St. Joseph’s Academy in Stellarton raised $1,400 for Operation Smile Canada. It was enough to pay for six cleft lip or cleft palate surgeries for children in other parts of the world. The students named one of those six surgeries in honour of Cpl Menegey, who longed to help those less fortunate than himself.
Cpl Megeney, who was 25 years old at the time of his death, is survived by his parents, Ronald and Karen Anne Megeney, and his sisters, Anne Lawand and Lisa Dawn Megeney.