‘Big Ross’ as he was affectionately known, died suddenly on 20 May 2002 in Bovington.
He was a well-respected member of the Regiment, who joined the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars from Belfast in May 1985. After completing his basic training at the RAC Training Regiment Catterick Garrison, he joined the Regiment on 9 January 1986 while it was stationed in Münster.
He immediately joined ‘A’ Squadron (The Duke of Edinburgh’s Squadron) where he played a big part in most sporting activities; football, rugby and boxing. It was during this time he discovered his love for sailing, which he maintained throughout his career.
Ross could always be found even, as a young soldier in the back decks of his tank constantly working to improve its performance, a good example to all soldiers. As the Regiment left Münster in 1988, Ross was sent to Lulworth as part of the support squadron for the RAC Gunnery School.
During the next two years, he improved his sailing and gained many military as well as civilian qualifications in this sport. During periods when the Squadron was on adventure training, he would often be seen working and coaching the younger, less confident soldiers to overcome their fear of the water.
On the Regiment’s return to Fallingbostel in 1990, he was promoted to the rank of lance corporal and returned to his beloved ‘A’ Squadron, he was by now a well-respected member of the Regiment, known for his loyalty and dedication to hard work. He deployed to the Gulf in October of 1990 as the Squadron Leader’s tank driver, and eventually gunner, but only after many arguments.
In November 1993, QRIH was sent to Cyprus as part of the UN peacekeeping force and Ross served on the line for six months as a section corporal. On his return, he was continuously sent to Bovington to attend a variety of D and M courses, which he always passed with ease.
Promoted to corporal in November 1994, he was given command of his own tank, a job that he loved, for the next few years. It was during this period that he was sent to a still very volatile Bosnia with the Implementation Force. He was promoted to sergeant on 1 November 1999 and fitted into Mess life well, but not for long. Once again he was sent away on operations; only this time to Kosovo.
On his return, in April of 2001, he was posted to the training wing in order to prepare for his forthcoming D and M Cadre. This was also the month when he married his long-term girlfriend, and the love of his life Bernadette. Ross passed his cadre with ease in 2002 and settled into life at the D and M School looking forward to spending time with Bernadette. Unfortunately, this was not for long.
Ross McKeown passed away on 20 May 2002, while at home in Bovington, a sad day that devastated both the Regiment and his family. He will always be remembered as a hard-working soldier who had time for everyone, a soldier who lived life to the full and would always lend a hand to the needy.