CONIFER, Colo. — A Conifer family is preparing to say goodbye to their son, Maj. Tobin Lewis, known as Toby. He was one of three Marines killed in the line of duty when an aircraft he was in crashed, according to the Marine Rotational Force.
The aircraft crashed on Melville Island north of Darwin, Australia Sunday morning. Capt. Eleanor Beau and Cpl. Spencer Collart also lost their lives. Twenty other Marines were injured.
Kathy Lewis, Toby Lewis's mother, said the loss has been devastating for the family, but their faith has been helping them in their grief.
"Our faith is sustaining us, and we would wish that for the other families as well," Kathy said. “Completely vital. And that is the only way we’re able to carry on – a firm belief that when you believe in Jesus Christ, you’re promised heaven, that that’s where he is and we’ll see him again."
Inside their Conifer home, Kathy is surrounded by photos of her son.
"He was a good son," she said. “He deserves to be honored."
Kathy said losing her son, a father of three himself, has been tough.
"But we know where he is. We know he's with the Lord," Kathy said.
She said as a kid, Toby was fun-loving and athletic. He loved animals and enjoyed reading.
"He was a pet person. He loved animals. He was an avid skier, very athletic. He played soccer from the time he was 3 and ended up playing Division 1 soccer at Liberty University," Kathy said. “He was a faithful friend, very dedicated friend and we’re reminded of that as all his friends contact us."
Even as a kid, Kathy said her son always wanted to fly.
“So he majored in aviation when he got to college," she said. "When he finished college, he did OCS – officers candidate school to go into the Marines. Because my dad was a Marine, he wanted to be a Marine."
Toby leaves behind his wife, Meredith, and their three girls, Lydia, 6, Nora, 4, and Eliana, 2. They're currently based in Kaneohe Bay at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
"His wife is also being carried and supported by her faith family in Hawaii. So that’s helping us since we’re so far away,” Kathy said.
The loss, she said, is devastating.
"We loved him," Kathy said. "We love him still and he was very good to us, watched over us, included us, invited us to come see him all the time, made that possible."
Now, they're preparing to bring Toby back home one last time, to be laid to rest.
“He’ll be brought here. And in the family cemetery, there’s a military section and he’ll be buried there in Evergreen," Kathy said. "He asked for that and his wife wants that and we're very glad for that."
She said they're grateful to have him close by, a place they can all go to remember Toby.
"His sister wrote a tribute, 'He loved and served God, he loved and served his family, he loved and served his country and he gave his life for his men,'" Kathy said. "So that was him."
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