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Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, of 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment was killed on the 13 February 2012 while taking part in a partnered patrol to reassure and interact with the local population in the Western Dashte area on the edge of Nad-e Ali district in Central Helmand Province. He was fatally wounded by small arms fire from an insurgent attack, and though evacuated by air to the field hospital at Camp Bastion sadly he succumbed to his wounds.
Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, 21, from Hemel Hempstead was born on 29
May 1990. He 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 arrived at an incredibly busy time for the Squadron and launched
straight into Afghanistan pre-deployment training. Ryan completed his
first tour in Afghanistan in 2010 as a specialist driver on a rifle
flight (the RAF Regiment equivalent of a platoon), defending Kandahar
Air Base. After returning from this successful deployment, he showed
promise and desire to develop new skills.
He deployed on a second tour to Afghanistan with No. 3 RAF Force
Protection Wing at Camp Bastion in October 2011. From the start of the
tour, he and his section supported Squadron operations out on the ground
around Bastion with great skill and determination, often deploying for
several days at a time through the harsh Helmand winter.
A highly professional and skilful gunner who achieved all he set out to
do in his three years in the Royal Air Force Regiment, Senior
Aircraftman Tomlin became one of the rising stars of his squadron and
regiment, and showed great potential for what promised to be the
brightest of futures.
He leaves behind his mother and father, Diane and Kevin, and a sister,
Michelle. The thoughts of all in 2 Squadron and No. 3 Force Protection
Wing are with them at this most difficult of times.
The family of SAC Tomlin said:
"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."
Wing Commander Jason Sutton OBE, Commanding Officer, No. 3 RAF Force
Protection Wing, 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. Per Ardua."
Flight Lieutenant David Martin, Deputy Squadron Commander, 2 Squadron,
Royal Air Force Regiment, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said:
"Professional, experienced and extremely popular, Senior Aircraftman
Tomlin was one of the best gunners in 2 Squadron. He excelled at
everything he did and he epitomised the Royal Air Force Regiment spirit
in every way. He was hugely respected by his peers and he frequently
mentored the younger members of the Squadron. Joining the Squadron in
2009, Senior Aircraftman Tomlin soon proved to be an exceptional
marksman, displaying an excellent flair for fieldcraft.
"Senior Aircraftman Tomlin enjoyed banter within his close knit section,
always remaining upbeat and lifting the spirits of those around him.
Already an experienced gunner with a tour in Afghanistan to his name, on
this tour his confidence grew quickly in just a few short months. He was
depended upon time and again to provide vital surveillance and
reconnaissance and long range fire support to his colleagues when
needed. Indeed, I witnessed at first hand his quick thinking and calm
professional manner during a meeting with village elders when he and his
colleagues successfully fought off an insurgent attack.
"Senior Aircraftman Tomlin was fatally wounded whilst on an important
engagement patrol, reassuring villagers and improving the lives of local
Afghan people. He loved his job, he was a pleasure to command and I am
honoured to have known him. Senior Aircraftman Tomlin clearly possessed
an exceptionally bright future and the Squadron is devastated by the
loss of a brother. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and
friends - we will never forget him. Nunquam Non Paratus."
Corporal Thomas Vardy, Section Commander, 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Regiment, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said:
"I first met Ryan when I was posted to 2 Squadron in October 2009. I
know it's not fair to have favourites, but I took an instant liking to
Ryan. He was young, enthusiastic, funny and had knowledge beyond his
"I had the privilege not only of having Ryan on the same flight, but on
my section. He was my driver for six months on his first tour of
Afghanistan in early 2010. I particularly remember haranguing him on his
birthday because it was 10 o'clock in the morning and he still had his
night sight on his weapon.
"Ryan was very keen and a good soldier. He was a constant source of
morale and nothing got him down. I'm certain he would have had a very
"It was clear that Ryan was very close to his family and friends as he
made every effort to go back home to Hemel Hempstead at weekends. My
thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends and they should be
extremely proud of him.
"It's hard to put into words how much you are going to miss someone.
Ryan wasn't just one of my team, he was my friend. Nobody had a bad word
to say about him and it was difficult to put him down. If you were
having a photo, he would be in the background messing around. When he
got excited the decibels went up and he talked too fast, but that was
"Ryan will be sorely missed and never forgotten. Your smile will stay
with me forever."
Senior Aircraftman Robert Zuccolini, Signaller, 2 Squadron, Royal Air
Force Regiment, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said:
"Ryan Tomlin always had morale to give out. You would never find him in
a bad mood and he would never put you in one. I had the privilege and
honour to go through basic training with him. Ryan was always someone
who could get you through the tough times. He was a 'Rock Ape' through
and through and passed out with his regimental brothers with pride.
"After spending a few months in 2 Squadron doing driver training and
getting to grips with squadron life, we all went into pre-deployment
training getting ready for Kandahar. It was new to us all but no-one
seemed worried, especially Ryan. He couldn't wait for the operational
bonus at the end! During the tour, Ryan proved himself to be an
outstanding soldier and a true friend.
"As a close friend of Ryan, I feel privileged to have known someone as
talented, funny and outgoing who would always be there for you, who you
could lean on, count on no matter what.
"Every gunner is my brother and 2 Squadron, RAF Regiment has just lost a
"Nunquam Non Paratus"
Lance Corporal Robert Banister, 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment,
No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said:
"For Ryan Tomlin;
"Together we stand as warriors, brave and bold.
"We stand in the face of danger, we conquer our fears and prevail
"To those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, may the spirit of the
fallen live on in the heart of the warrior."