Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabidedau, along with a small group that included a Major in the Australian Army, ascended nearby Scarface Mountain this morning to lay a remembrance poppy at the place where another Australian solider was found frozen to death in January. Mayor Clyde Rabideau, Major Cameron Satrapa (Australian Defence) and a small cadre of Saranac Lakers started their climb in an early morning temperature of 18 degrees F. The ascent and laying of a single poppy fulfilled a pledge made by the mayor to a friend of Australian Captain Paul McKay in January following the discovery of the captain’s body on Scarface Mountain after an intensive 2-week search and rescue mission.
31 Year-old Captain Paul McKay, diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS,) traveled from his home in Adelaide, Australia, to Saranac Lake, e-mailed his dad from a local hotel room with a message giving away all his possessions and then climbed Scarface Mountain in temperatures reaching 20 degrees below zero with very little gear. 15 days later, his body was found upon a rocky outcrop near the peak of Scarface Mountain by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officers who were part of a massive search and rescue effort. The captain’s death was later ruled a suicide and there is no known reason why Captain McKay came to Saranac Lake.
Earlier this month, the Village of Saranac Lake declared this day as “Anzac Day for PTS Awareness” and held an Anzac service at its WW I Memorial later in the morning honoring Australia, Captain McKay and promoting PTS awareness..
Two Australian military officers, including Major Satrapa and Lt. Commander Kathryn McCabe (Royal Australian Navy,) flew in for the event from the Australian embassy in Washington, DC, and addressed a large gathering, recited the traditional “Ode of Remembrance” and placed a memorial wreath on the monument.