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15 February 2012, 08:37 | Updated: 15 February 2012, 16:15
The family of Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin who was killed in Afghanistan on Monday have paid tribute to him.
SAC Tomlin, who was 21 and from Hemel Hempstead, was serving with 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment.
He was fatally wounded in an insurgent attack while on patrol in the Western Dashte area on the edge of Nad-e Ali district in Central Helmand Province. He was evacuated by air to the field hospital at Camp Bastion where he died.
His mother and father, Diane and Kevin, and a sister, Michelle, said in a statement issued through the Ministry of Defence: "Ryan loved and lived life to the full. He gave his life at a very young age doing the job he loved. Ryan will be sorely missed by his family and friends and everyone who loved him. We will remember his cheeky grin and great sense of humour. Ryan will be forever young and never forgotten. Our true hero and shining star."
SAC Tomlin joined the Royal Air Force in October 2008, completing his Trainee Gunners Course in April 2009 before moving on to the Phase One Field Gunners Course. He was selected to join 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, based at Royal Air Force Honington, in June 2009.
He was on his second tour of Afghanistan and was said to be one of the rising stars of his squadron and regiment.
Wing Commander Jason Sutton said: "Senior Aircraftman Tomlin was one of the finest men on my wing and his loss has come as a terrible blow to all of us, especially his comrades on his beloved 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment. Bright, gifted and an absolute master of his craft, he had the complete trust of those who had the privilege of serving alongside him. When the task was hard, he would immediately rise to the challenge. When those around him were weary, he was the one to lift their spirits, and when the enemy threatened, he was the first to be ready to fight. In our grief, we take comfort that he fell doing the job he loved, protecting his mates and the Afghan National Army soldiers we work to support in our shared task of building a better future for Afghanistan.
"Senior Aircraftman Tomlin had the brightest future ahead of him, and his loss has deprived the Royal Air Force Regiment of one of its very best. In continuing our mission here to protect air operations and the people who work at Camp Bastion, we will strive to do justice to the fine example he set. His loss is deeply felt by us all, but our grief can never be deeper than that of Diane and Kevin and their family, with whom our thoughts and prayers are with at this most difficult time. He will never be forgotten."
Hemel Hempstead's MP has also been paying tribute to Ryan. Mike Penning is an ex-servicemen himself and has recently been to visit soldiers out in Afghanistan.
Ryan is the third serviceman from Hemel Hempstead to be killed in action in the last 18 months. Mike Penning says:
"My thoughts and prayers are obviously with the family and his loved ones but he was doing what he wanted to do he was serving in an elite unit, the RAF regiment, and he would have been very proud of what he achieved and what he had done but it is very sad that he was lost while he was on patrol"
Penning says Ryan was very popular in the town and it has saddened a lot of people.