Page last updated at 22:00 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Soldier killed in Helmand named

Lt Aaron Lewis. Pic: MoD
Lt Aaron Lewis was "a natural leader"

A soldier killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan has been identified by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Lt Aaron Lewis, 26, of 29 Commando Royal Artillery, died on Monday when his base in the Gereshk area of Helmand Province came under attack.

The Essex man's family said: "He committed everything he had to a cause that he truly believed in."

His death brings the total number of UK troops killed while serving in Afghanistan since 2001 to 133.

Lt Lewis was fatally wounded when the gun position he was commanding at the Forward Operations Base was targeted.

He was taken by helicopter to a military hospital in Kandahar but died from his injuries.

He was deployed to Afghanistan with his gun troop in October 2008.

'Hero'

His family said he would be remembered as a hero.

They said: "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.

"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.

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
Lt Col Neil Wilson

"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."

A former Loughborough University student, Lt Lewis passed out at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in April 2007.

Lt Col Neil Wilson, commanding officer of Lt Lewis's Plymouth-based regiment 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."

'True Commando'

Describing Lt Lewis as a "true Commando", he said: "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."

At the time of his death, Lt Lewis was commanding F Troop, 79 Kirkee Commando Battery Royal Artillery.

Maj Rob Alsworth, the troop's battery commander, said Lt Lewis "inspired the best from his men" and was a "natural leader".

Close friend, Cpt Alex Fries said Lt Lewis had been devoted to his girlfriend Naomi and was the kind of man who 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," he said.

The Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton also paid tribute and said his thoughts and sympathy were with Lt Lewis's parents Barry and Helen.



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