It is with deep regret the Australian Defence Force announces the death of Lance Corporal Mervyn John McDonald during operations in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal McDonald was serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan when he was tragically killed in a helicopter crash on 30 August 2012.
Lance Corporal McDonald is survived by his fiancée Rachael, his mother Myrna and stepfather Bernie, and brothers Percy, Roger and Gary.
Thirty-year old Lance Corporal McDonald was born in Carnarvon, Western Australia in 1982. He joined the Army on 31 May 1999 and was posted to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR). On completion of his Selection and Training Course and Reinforcement Cycle, Lance Corporal McDonald was posted to the then 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment, now the 2nd Commando Regiment, in August 2008. Lance Corporal McDonald was on his sixth tour to Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal McDonald was quick witted and brought a positive energy to both his unit comrades and all those who served with him. A dedicated and enthusiastic professional soldier, he was always willing to come forward with ideas and solutions. He was a highly professional soldier, but his quiet nature and humility meant he always deflected credit back on to fellow members of his Company.
Lance Corporal McDonald has been awarded the following honours and awards:
- Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp East Timor and ICAT
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal
- the Australian Service Medal with Clasp East Timor, Timor Leste and CT/SR
- Australian Defence Medal
- United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor Medal
- Timor Leste Solidarity Medal
- NATO non article 5 Medal with Clasp ISAF and Multiple Tour Indicator (2)
- Commander 1st Division Commendation
- Infantry Combat Badge
- Returned from Active Service Badge
During Lance Corporal McDonald’s service in the Australian Army, he deployed on the following operations:
- Operation Tanager (East Timor): October 2000 – April 2001
- Operation Citadel (East Timor): May – October 2003
- Operation Astute (Timor-Leste): May – September 2006
- Operation Astute (Timor-Leste): March – June 2007
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): March – July 2009
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): March – June 2010
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): February – March 2011
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): April – May 2011
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): July – August 2011
- Operation Norwich (Australia): November 2011
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): July – August 2012
Statements and tributes
Rachael Sprigg-McKinnie, Lance Corporal McDonald's fiancée
Merv was the warmest guy you’d ever meet. You could see it in his eyes, they had a special sparkle.
He was a real Aussie bloke with a passion for his country, especially its natural splendour. Merv could often be found four-wheel driving and going for bushwalks, but really his favourite place was the ocean. Merv just loved being in the water and the beach was his second home, where he could often be found swimming, spearing or barbequing.
They were simple pleasures which filled his soul.
But no place brought out Merv’s magnificent smile like the west coast of Australia. He had a nomadic childhood in Western Australia and crossing the border into his home state was always a special moment for Merv. His affection for WA was passionately extended to the West Coast Eagles footy club.
Unfortunately Merv’s last visit to Carnarvon a couple of months ago was bittersweet, as he made the trek home to farewell his father who recently passed. What gave Merv strength though was his gratitude to be home and with his family.
Merv was the sort of man who always stayed connected with his family. There was never any doubt of the love he had for them and Merv certainly received plenty of love in return. He was also a fantastic uncle who adored his nieces and nephews. Clowning around with the kids, taking them down the beach and simply throwing a ball around gave him joy.
The other side of Merv was the soldier. He loved the Army and being a digger. Even after several tours, he felt a real sense of duty to return to Afghanistan and he was committed to sharing his experience with his team and 2nd Commando Regiment. Words cannot express just how proud I am of the service he has given his mates and his country. Merv would be deeply touched by how the Army family has rallied around to support those he loved.
When I first met Merv I was struck by his smile. It was a beautiful, illuminating smile that betrayed his tough guy exterior.
Merv had an infectious personality and he was simply amazing, on a natural high and unlike anyone else I’d ever known. He had old fashioned principles and was an absolute gentleman who knew how to treat a lady.
My fiancé changed my world by showing me new ways to think about things and by teaching me how to really experience life and believe in myself. We jammed so much into our 18 months together. Merv never missed a moment. He would stop to look at a rainbow or to smell the coffee.
We were due to be married in Bendigo next Easter Saturday and we were hoping to start a family soon after. Merv would have been a fantastic husband and a wonderful dad.