Aaron Lewis, 26, was killed in action in a Forward Operating Base near Gereshk in central Helmand whilst deployed on operations with 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery. He was fatally wounded when the gun position he was commanding came under attack. He was flown to hospital in Kandahar but died shortly after arrival.
Aaron Lewis was a Lieutenant serving with the Royal Artillery in post with 29 Commando Regiment.
Lieutenant Aaron Lewis was born in Essex on 4 December 1982. A 2:1 Graduate of Sports and Exercise Science from Loughborough University, he looked to satisfy his thirst for adventure and a physical challenge by joining the Army. He passed out of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in April 2007. After completing the Royal Artillery Young Officers' Course he was posted to 29 Commando Regiment in Plymouth. Despite suffering a knee injury he showed incredible determination to pass the arduous All Arms Commando Course in June 2008. He deployed with his gun troop to Afghanistan in October 2008.
Lt Lewis excelled at sports and was particularly keen on rugby, at which he represented Loughborough University. At Sandhust, he qualified as a Mountain Leader Trainer and was in the process of organising an adventurous training expedition to France. Before joining the Army he was a physical training instructor which was evident from his determined approach to exercise and his keenness to involve his entire troop in physical training. He was well known for leading 'spinning' classes which often tired out the toughest commandos under his command.
Lt Lewis was a natural leader whose selfless attitude was evident in all he did. In a short space of time he built up a strong reputation as an able officer. He was a proud family man and was full of appreciation for his parents (Barry and Helen), realising that their hard work had given him the launch pad for the life upon which he was embarking. Through his charm he met his girlfriend Naomi and she soon became an inseparable part of his life. His loss will be felt for many years to come.
Statement made by Lt Aaron Lewis's family:
"Aaron was a beloved son, brother, boyfriend and uncle and the feeling of loss will never leave us. But our proud memories of him will live on forever. Aaron will rest peacefully knowing that he was helping others and saving lives so that other families will not have to go through what we, as a family, are at this time. Aaron constantly achieved everything that he set out to do and, in joining the Army, committed everything he had to a cause that he truly believed in. We are so proud of Aaron as a person and an officer and he knew how much his family loved him even though we couldn't be there to help when he needed us most. His loss will always be a painful memory but, in time, we will celebrate his strengths and that he will be remembered as a hero. We only hope that people will recognise the selfless act that our soldiers undertake to protect our country, so that future generations don't have to suffer."
Lt Colonel Neil Wilson Royal Artillery, Commanding Officer, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, said:
"From the moment he arrived in 29 Commando Regiment it was apparent that Aaron was someone very special. We were all immediately struck by his maturity, professionalism and determination, the latter point being proven as he fulfilled a personal ambition of passing the Commando Course, despite suffering a bad knee injury. He frequently brought calmness to difficult situations, reassuring people by his presence and showing cheerfulness in adversity – a true Commando trait.
"He led his men from the front, his passion and vigour constantly on display, with the welfare of his soldiers always at the forefront of his mind; he genuinely cared for them. He was a lively mess character and if there was something going on there, he was usually at the centre of it. Always ready and willing to assist anyone who needed it, he quickly became popular with his witty conversation and engaging banter. He will be greatly missed by us all and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time."
Major Rob Alsworth Royal Artillery, Battery Commander, 79 (Kirkee) Battery, said:
"Lieutenant Aaron Lewis was commanding F Troop, 79 (Kirkee) Commando Battery Royal Artillery. He was the young officer we all wished we could be, combining dedicated professionalism with an infectious thirst for fun and adventure. He threw himself into his career and loved commanding soldiers. A popular Troop Commander and natural leader, he fought hard to achieve the very best for his men and this evident compassion for his team was repaid with genuine respect. Whether being pushed to the limits on the All Arms Commando Course or on operations commanding F Troop, he inspired the very best from his men.
"Aaron was motivated by all things active. He was in the midst of organising a diving expedition to introduce himself and his soldiers to yet another new challenge. Aaron was at the centre of all things social, frequently organising Mess parties. He was excellent at making new members and guests feel immediately at ease, usually with the help of Tequila!"
Warrant Officer Class 2 Greg Hamer Royal Artillery, Troop Sergeant Major, 79 (Kirkee) Commando Battery, said:
"Having passed his Commando Course and earned the right to wear the coveted Green Beret, he was given the command of F Troop, 79 (Kirkee) Commando Battery, for Operation Herrick 9. He showed professional leadership, dedication, enthusiasm, cheerfulness and selfless commitment; his approach to command and leadership was exemplary. With his high standards he was always approachable and willing to help with Troop matters, whatever the time of day. His enthusiasm for the welfare of the men under his command was a true mark of his character and selfless commitment to achieve the best for all the men in the Troop. His passion was physical training, with his legendary 'spinning classes', which were never an easy session. With robustness and determination he led from the front in true Commando spirit. His strong, cheerful character will be missed by all."
Captain Alex Fries Royal Artillery, Officer Commanding, Commando Training Wing, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, said:
"Aaron took his job very seriously, but never took himself seriously. He was one of my closest friends in the regiment – he was the kind of man who made a night out into a great night out through his infectious enthusiasm for any undertaking; the more absurd the better, including fancy dress.
"I knew him before he came to the regiment and whilst he was on the Young Officers' Course. He would constantly harass me for advice about the Commando Course, for which he thrashed himself in preparation. I know how disappointed he was after he got injured on his first attempt, but by overcoming this, and completing the course, he extolled the virtues of a Commando Officer.
"He was devoted to his girlfriend, Naomi, and my thoughts are with his parents and her at this time."