The family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan 10 years ago say the memory of their son may still bring a smile to someone.

Tom Sawyer, 26, of Watford was a Captain of 7 Sphinx Battery, 29 Commando, when he killed in a friendly fire incident in Helmand province, Afghanistan on January 14, 2009.

Tom was born on January 20, 1982 and educated at Watford Grammar, as a teenager he was a cadet with the Air Training Corps in Watford.


Tom with his sister, Wendy

A keen sportsman with a passion for outdoor pursuits, Tom decided at an early age to pursue a career in the Armed Forces.

Tom joined Sandhurst at 18 and was determined to become a Commando and earn his Green Beret.

He decided to undertake the gruelling Commando Course, the final phase of which he completed on a suspected broken ankle.

He quickly rose through the ranks to Captain and was expected to become a Major on his return from Afghanistan.


Tom receiving a commendation

His mother Sue said: “Tom was not only a brilliant soldier, he was a very much loved and loving son, husband, brother, family member and friend.

“We are and always have been so proud of him.

“Even though we knew Tom was doing an extremely dangerous job in Afghanistan nothing can prepare you for the knock on the door in the early hours which signals that your lives will be changed irrevocably forever.

“We were totally devastated, heartbroken – you can’t really put into words how we felt. One of the worst parts was having to tell our daughter Wendy that we had lost Tom – they were so close.

“The memory of that moment will live with us forever.”


Tom out in Afghanistan

Tom and another commando, Corporal Danny Winter, was killed in a Friendly Fire incident when a Javelin missile fired by a Danish soldier hit his position.

His mother said: “For any parent losing a child is unimaginable, your worst nightmare so the passing years have done nothing to heal the pain and heartache any of us feel.

“You have to get on with life, you have no choice but you don’t move on.

“You have to learn to live a life you never imagined but every memorable occasion is a double edged sword.

“There is always a Tom shaped hole; Wendy and Adam’s Wedding, the birth of their child, our grandson, you think how proud and happy Tom would be, what a great Uncle he would have made. You can’t help but wonder what might have been.

“Knowing how happy Tom was after marrying his wife Katy in 2008 does give a measure of comfort and know Tom would be pleased that she is still part of our lives.”


Tom (in military dress) and his family

As an officer it is said that Tom would not expect any of the soldiers under his command to do anything, he wasn’t prepared to do himself.

As leader, he endeared him to his ‘lads’ and always led from the front.

Tom was the first member of the Armed Forces from Watford to be Killed in Action since World War II and a road has been named in his honour, Thomas Sawyer Way, a road that leads to the Watford General Hospital.

His mother, Sue, added: “Tom will always be remembered but the road has the significant purpose of helping to save lives, the same purpose which was Tom’s belief in what he was doing whilst serving his country.

“We also think that whilst driving along that road, a memory of Tom may bring a smile to someone.

“It has always been a fear since losing Tom that he would be forgotten, like he never existed and time and again we are reminded that Tom touched so many people’s lives, and there are so many memories of him.”