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  • Christina Drummond

Captain Tom Sawyer, The Royal Artillery, and Corporal Dan Winter, Royal Marines

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2009, Captain Tom Sawyer of the Royal Artillery and Corporal Dan Winter of the Royal Marines 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.

Captain Sawyer was commissioned in 2002; he had decided at a very young age that he was going to join the armed forces, and as a young teen he had been a cadet with the Air Traiinng Corps. He had served in Afghanistan in 2006, where his job was to oversee and facilitate Afghan Army mentoring and training, for which he received the Brigade Commander’s Commendation. 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. Captain Sawyer's C.O. said of him: "Captain Sawyer died a hero, doing a job he loved. 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." Tom, from Hertfordshire, was 26 and recently married. Corporal Winters joined the Royal Marines in 1996 and served in Northern Ireland and Iraq, as well as previously in Afghanistan. His role at the time of his death was as Specialist Mortar Fire Controller, and he was known to have a true passion for his specialization. His comrades remember him as professional and dedicated, unselfish and calm under pressure. From Corporal Winter's C.O.: "Corporal Winter was an exceptional Royal Marine, Mortarman and NCO with a big future ahead of him. Clear thinking and forthright yet loyal, warm-hearted and very approachable, he was hugely influential both within the Mortar Troop but also within Zulu Company where for the last few months he had provided them with staunch fire support and planning advice throughout the many challenges that they have faced in Afghanistan. Brave, committed, extremely determined and operationally experienced he had a gift for giving honest advice and opinion without raising hackles and he was tremendously well respected by all ranks as a result. He was killed right at the forefront of an operation whilst providing the measured and balanced advice to his commander that had become his trademark." Dan, from Manchester, was 28 years old,

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