http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/CaptainTomSawyerAndCorporalDannyWinterKilledInAfghanistan.htmIt is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Captain Tom Herbert John Sawyer Royal Artillery and Corporal Danny Winter Royal Marines were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 14 January 2009.
Both were killed in an explosion while taking part in a joint operation with a
Danish Battle Group and the Afghan National Army north east of Gereshk
in central Helmand. They were members of a fire support team that was
engaged in an operation to clear compounds in a known Taliban
stronghold. Two other members of the patrol were injured in the
explosion.Captain Tom Herbert John Sawyer, Royal Artillery
Captain Tom Sawyer was serving with 7 (Sphinx) Commando Battery, 29
Commando Regiment Royal Artillery. He was in Helmand province deployed
on operations as a Fire Support Team Commander attached to Zulu
Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines.
Capt Sawyer, from Hertfordshire, was born on 20 January 1982. He was
educated at Watford Grammar and Rickmansworth schools and, as a
teenager, was a cadet with the Air Training Corps in Watford. A keen
sportsman with a passion for outdoor pursuits, Tom decided at an early
age to pursue a career in the Armed Forces. Settling on the Army, he
was selected for training as an officer at the Royal Military Academy,
Sandhurst, and successfully passed out earning the Queen's Commission
as a Second Lieutenant in April 2002.
The next step in his career saw him selected by the Royal Regiment
of Artillery for Young Officer training. On completion, he was posted
to 32 Regiment Royal Artillery (subsequently 39 Regiment) as a Troop
Commander. After this tour, Tom was posted to the Army Training
Regiment at Pirbright where his flair for instruction and ability to
communicate with all ranks were assets that helped him to excel. His
final posting, to 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, came in
September 2006, just in time for deployment to Afghanistan on Operation
On Operation Herrick 5, Capt Sawyer was given command of an Afghan
National Army outstation with a remit to oversee and facilitate Afghan
Army mentoring and training. This responsibility again played to his
strengths and he received a Brigade Commander's Commendation for his
performance under incredibly testing circumstances. On returning to the
UK, he immediately passed the All Arms Commando course and in so doing
earned the right to wear the Green Beret of Commando forces. Assigned
to 7 (Sphinx) Commando Battery based in RM Condor, Arbroath, Capt
Sawyer was appointed Battery Training Officer and charged with
preparing his unit for its return to Afghanistan in October 2008.
As the training officer, Capt Sawyer organised and delivered a first
class pre-deployment training package that ably prepared 7 (Sphinx)
Commando Battery for operations; the high standards achieved by the men
of the battery since bear testament to his endeavours.
Robust, fit and ever determined, Capt Sawyer was a keen sportsman
who recently organised and led the Regimental Telemark Ski Team to
compete at Army level in Austria. Looking to the future and the welfare
of the men under his command, he had also planned to take his soldiers
adventure training in Cyprus on completion of Op Herrick 9.
Socially, Capt Sawyer was a dynamo of good humour and fun; his company being thoroughly enjoyed by officers and soldiers alike. His intelligent wit
and pleasant persona made him approachable by all ranks and one of
life's great characters. His death is a huge loss to the men of his
Battery, his Regiment, 3 Commando Brigade and the Royal Regiment of
Artillery. Capt Sawyer is survived by his wife Katy, whom he married in March 2008, his parents Martyn and Susan and sister Wendy.
Tom's family paid the following tribute:
"Tom was the best husband, son and brother we could ever have asked for. He deeply loved his family and friends and his infectious
personality touched all those who knew him. Dedicated to the army and his lads; he was loyal, loud and loving. He will leave a big hole in
all of our lives but will always be remembered as our hero."
Lieutenant Colonel Neil Wilson Royal Artillery, Commanding Officer, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, said:
"Captain Tom Sawyer died a hero, doing a job he loved and whilst
taking the fight to the enemy in the only way he knew. He was a
first-class officer with a natural flair for command and was hugely
respected by all his fellow officers and by the soldiers he commanded.
He excelled as an instructor and mentor, and the time he took to impart his knowledge and uncompromising professional standards to his battery will undoubtedly be remembered as one of his greatest gifts.
"On operations, this selfless legacy, though immeasurable, has
undoubtedly helped save the lives of both Afghans and British
servicemen alike. He was a very proud and capable Commando Gunner with an exceedingly bright future. He had aspirations to achieve so much more in the military and, with the determination and strength of
character he possessed, would undoubtedly have achieved his goals.
"Utterly courteous in all that he did, I will forever remember Tom
as a gregarious, fun-loving, universally popular character with a ready
smile and a joke. The great loss I feel as his Commanding Officer is
incomparable to that which I know his wife and family will be feeling
as a result of his death. My thoughts and prayers are with them all at
this tragic time."
Major Jackson Docherty Royal Artillery, Battery Commander, 7(Sphinx)
Commando Battery, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, said:
"Tom Sawyer was the senior captain in my battery and also a great
friend. He was extremely ambitious and had plans to pursue a career in the Special Forces for which he was well-suited and in which he would undoubtedly have succeeded. Receiving the Brigade Commander's Commendation for his performance during his last tour of Afghanistan, he was keen to replicate this performance which he did with courage, honour, and humility, always putting his team's interests before his own.
"He was passionate about his job and the battery could ask for no
more from him. However, an Adjutant's nightmare, Tom was notorious
throughout 45 Commando Group for his shenanigans and his desire to look cool whilst wearing the latest military fashion - if it was different,
Tom had it. He also had a knack of getting away with it!
"He will always be remembered within commando forces and his passing is felt by us all. He has paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of others. His wife Katy has lost a wonderful husband and we, in the battery, have lost a great officer. Our thoughts and prayers are with his newly wed wife Katy and his parents at this time."
"Captain Tom Sawyer died a hero, doing a job he loved and whilst taking
the fight to the enemy in the only way he knew. He was a first-class
officer with a natural flair for command and was hugely respected by
all his fellow officers and by the soldiers he commanded."
Lieutenant Colonel Neil Wilson Royal Artillery, Commanding Officer, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery
Captain Sam Hewitt Royal Artillery, Fire Support Team Commander, 26 Regiment Royal Artillery (attached to 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery), said:
"Tom was a true friend, one, who no matter the circumstances, would
help anyone, often putting himself out so others were not
disadvantaged. I am a much better person for having known him. Tom had an enthusiasm for life paired with an overwhelming kindness which always seemed to brighten up a room. He worked hard and possessed a natural ability to lead, gaining respect from the soldiers under his command throughout the Gunners.
"Tom always worked hard for his men and commanded with style and
panache. He lived for his family and friends and died doing the job he
loved. He was an officer in every sense of the word with qualities such as honour, selflessness and courage in abundance. The world will be a sadder place without Tom and I will miss him greatly.
"My deepest condolences are with Tom's wife Katy and his family.
Mate, it was a pleasure to have known and served alongside you. You
paid the ultimate sacrifice and you will not be forgotten."
Captain Rob Cooper Royal Artillery, Fire Support Team Commander, 7
(Sphinx) Commando Battery, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, said:
"Tom was an outstanding officer, an outstanding Fire Supporting Team
Commander and an outstanding husband to Katy. Tom was a true
inspiration to me as a friend and those that he served. His devotion to
his wife, Katy, was unrivalled and my heart goes out to her and Tom's
entire family who he never stopped talking about. You will be sorely
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer 45 Commando Group, said:
"The tragic loss of Captain Tom Sawyer has been deeply felt
throughout the whole of 45 Commando Group. A stalwart member of 7
Battery and 29 Commando RA, he has served with 45 Commando Group throughout two operational tours to Afghanistan and has lived and worked with us at home in Arbroath and abroad for the last
two-and-a-half years - he is truly considered to be one of our own.
"Over the last year in which I have known Tom, we have had the opportunity to talk often. On every occasion I have been struck by his zest for life, the enthusiasm and commitment that he showed for his profession and his humility and preparedness to listen to advice.
"He had every quality that could be expected from a Commando Gunner Officer and I have no doubt that he had a very bright future ahead of him. All ranks of 45 Commando Group and, in particular, Zulu Company, join me in sending my very deepest condolences to his wife, Katy, and his close family and friends."