Kevin’s mom always knew the military would play a role in his life. As a young boy Kevin loved GI Joe and war movies and documentaries. He visited WWI and WWII historical sites and joined the navy cadets in high school.

But his love of all things military paled in comparison to his love for his family, especially his mom. When he got big enough, Kevin would pick his mom up, throw her over his shoulder and run around the house with her. He looked after his older brother, made sure to spend his leave time with his mom and was taught and coached by his dad, who called him a “person magnet.”

Kevin could be mischievous, but he had a pure spirit. He managed to see the beauty in small things, hated gossip and bullying, and always lived life to the fullest.

Kevin’s sense of humour was irrepressible. He was famous for hanging moons and always succeeded in making people laugh. The day before graduation, his friends showed their love of his humour by shaving off one of his eyebrows. His mom had to paint it back on for his graduation pictures. But that didn’t stop the fun: they repeated the stunt just before Kevin’s military grad.

This remarkable young man appreciated many things. He especially loved talking to seniors and making them laugh. When Kevin was 11 or 12, he went to the ocean even though he wasn’t supposed to be there by himself. He had a mission: an older gentleman he knew loved capelin, but was unable to get to the ocean to catch them himself. Kevin knew he could make somebody happy with just a little effort, so he set out to do so.

Kevin’s leadership and wisdom became apparent at an early age. When he was three, his older brother was scared to go to kindergarten. Kevin walked Michael to school, stayed with him until class was ready to start, and reassured his brother that it was only a half day and he and mom would pick him up at lunchtime. His strength became apparent when he was 13 when he sat with his grandmother as she was dying and reassured her that it was okay to go.

Kevin understood his role in the military as helping people and fighting evil. He said: “If you see evil and you don’t confront it and if you see evil and evil is causing mayhem and you don’t confront it, somewhere down the line, you are going to be forced to confront it.” Kevin chose to confront it early.

When Kevin got to Afghanistan, his platoon was assigned to participate in Operation Achilles, an initiative to force the Taliban out of Helmund Province. Soon after he arrived, the Canadian Press interviewed Kevin and asked him how he felt about the operation. His excitement and dedication are clear in his response: “We came here. We’ve trained for years and we are finally going to go out and do our job and we are ready to do it.”

Kevin understood how important their work was. When things got difficult, his response was typical of his drive to make a difference. He would say, “Boy’s, let’s suck it up.”

Yet, as aware as he was of the larger implications of the Canadian mission to Afghanistan, Kevin also tried to make life easier for the Afghan people. He asked his mom to include crayons, colouring books and candy in his care packages so he could hand them out to village children. Even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, Kevin found a way to make a difference on a personal level.

By Rhonda Kronyk

Portrait by Cindy Revell