Sgt. Chris Karigiannis wasn’t sure anyone at Maclean’s would even open the envelope. At most, he hoped a few lines of his handwritten note would make it onto the “Mail Bag” pages. “I really doubted that this letter would have been acknowledged at all, to be honest,” he says now. “I am astonished at the reaction.”
By now, our loyal readers know the story. Last month, halfway through his tour of duty in Afghanistan, Karigiannis mailed us a letter from the front lines, saying how much he enjoys Maclean ’s—especially the “extremely attractive young lady” featured on the front of this year’s University Issue. “She is the best pin-up in our collection,” he wrote. Within days, the anonymous cover girl—24-year-old Kinga Ilyes—was a household name. The Sun newspaper chain even plastered her photo on the front page, dubbing her the “Darling of Kandahar.”
But Karigiannis had no idea what he started. Until a few days ago, the 3l-year' old infantryman was stationed at a remote Forward Operating Base, cut off from the outside world. Last weekend, he finally returned to Kandahar Airfield and heard the news. “I think you can understand why I say I was astonished,” he says, speaking to Maclean’s by email.
Ilyes was too—so much so that she now wants to travel to Afghanistan and thank the troops in person. “It would be absolutely the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” she says. So Maclean’s has submitted an official request to the Canadian Forces asking that Ilyes be included on the next “morale visit” to Kandahar.
“The soldiers would certainly appreciate her visiting, I’ve no doubt,” Karigiannis says. But the sergeant doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea. “The last thing I’d want is to earn stalker status,” he says. “The letter I wrote was well-intentioned, honest, and simply a thankyou note.” He was never looking for a response, he says—not from Maclean’s, and certainly not from Kinga. “I know she has had quite a bit of attention and I hope this has not caused a problem for her,” he says. “Feel free to offer my email to her if she’s interested (with no expectations of any kind). Nevertheless, say hello to her for me if you get a chance.” M
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