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'A man of valor, character and faith': Family remembers Marine from Jefferson County killed in Australia crash

U.S. Marine from Jefferson County among those killed in Osprey aircraft crash
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Posted at 8:34 AM, Aug 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-30 10:34:46-04

CONIFER, Colo. — One of the three U.S. Marines who was killed during a training exercise in Australia grew up in Jefferson County.

The Marines identified Major Tobin J. Lewis as one of three service members who died after the MV-22B Osprey aircraft they were on crashed Sunday morning.

“He was a man of valor and character. He was a man of faith,” said Kathy Lewis, the major's mother.

She said the last couple of days have been tough.

“It's up and down. Tears and then joy,” said Lewis. “Lots of reminiscing and lots of calls from friends and friends coming. So, lots of people in and out and that's comforting.”

Over the last two days, friends and community members have stopped by the Lewis home in Conifer to leave flowers and other condolences.

“It's really keeping us going. Our church family has been so sweet to bring us meals and pray for us, pray with us. That's really sustaining us,” said Lewis.

She said her son, the youngest of three children, who graduated from Conifer High School in 2004, wanted to be a pilot from an early age.

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Major Tobin "Toby" Lewis wanted to be pilot from a very early age, his mother says.

“My father was a Marine aviator. And Toby loved to follow him around when he was working with his plane. And he grew up with a loyalty to the Marines. So, he knew he wanted to be a pilot. And if he was going to go into the military, he was going to be a Marine,” said Lewis, who admits she had some reservations about him joining the Marines. "I especially had has hesitations about his becoming a pilot. But I also knew from my father that when you're a pilot, it's in your blood, you have to do it, you have to fly, and I wasn't going to get in his way."

Major Lewis’ military career carried him around the world, including to Spain and Japan.

He was promoted to the rank of major in 2018, according to a news release from the U.S. Marines.

“He loved it. He loved it. And he was good at it,” said Lewis. “He was an instructor for many years because he was good at it and really loved teaching other people how to fly.”

She also had his own family: A wife and three young girls.

Lewis hopes her son will be remembered as a man who loved his family, God and country.

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Kathy Lewis shared this photo of the front page of an Australian newspaper. She said her son Major Tobin Lewis was proud to have flown during the airshow, just a few days before his death.

“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. I think that really sums up who he was,” said Lewis.

She said her son will be buried in Evergreen, where other members of the family are buried.

In addition to Major Lewis, U.S. Corporal Spencer Collart, 21, from Arlington, Va., and Captain Eleanor LeBeau, 29, from Belleville, Ill., also died in the crash.

Three Marines remain in the hospital. Seventeen others were treated for minor injuries and released.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.