Remembered by: Courtesy of The Daily Telegraph
Date added: 27 Oct 2010
Senior Aircraftman Marcin Wojtak, 24 was killed on the 1st October 2009, while patrolling close to the perimeter of the UK's main base in southern Afghanistan. The Airman, from 34 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, died in a blast near Camp Bastion in Helmand province on Thursday afternoon.
The Royal Air Force Regiment gunner, who joined the service in 2005, had only arrived in Camp Bastion the month before after being post to the unit in May 2008.
Colleagues said Leicester-born SAC Wojtak, who had completed tours in the Falklands and Kandahar, was known as ‘Big Ted’ because of his teddy bear like qualities.
He had volunteered to become one of the Squadron's trauma risk Managers and was described as a respected serviceman with leadership potential.
Appointed as a Fire Team Commander and given Acting Corporal rank, SAC Wojtak was due to attend a training course to make the appointment formal upon his return from Afghanistan.
The Airman had also been looking forward to setting up home with his girlfriend Sam, according to the Ministry of Defence.
His family said: "Marcin adored life and was loved by everyone around him. He was a gentle giant who was admired for his caring nature and endless kindness. He placed his happiness in the happiness of others. His love of the military led him to a career in the Royal Air Force where he remained loyal and courageous to the end. We are so proud of him.
"Marcin is a beloved son, grandson, brother, uncle and boyfriend. His life was short but well lived and he was loved by all. Always and forever."
Wing Commander Shaun Ryles, his Commanding Officer, paid tribute to the Airman, and said: "Senior Aircraftsman Wojtak was a man of great strengths; both as a formidable gunner and as a person who displayed outstanding leadership potential. He was widely respected by all that had the honour to serve with him."
Squadron Leader "George" Formby, his Squadron Commander, added: "He was one of those steady, competent, reliable men that form the backbone of any unit; the sort that, as a Commander, you rely upon. I relied upon him enough to appoint him as a Junior Commander for our time in Afghanistan. He was widely respected by all that had the honour to serve with him. He was not short of friends in the Squadron and he fitted in well, displaying a soft side that earned him the nickname 'Big Ted' or just 'Ted'."
Corporal Dave Hayden described SAC Wojtak as a "big figurehead", and added: "He was the big teddy bear who loved to help whatever the problem."
Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, said: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Senior Aircraftsman Marcin Wojtak.
"This brave young man earned the respect and praise of his colleagues not only for his skills as a gunner but also for his caring and supportive nature, and his passing will leave a gulf in the Regiment.
"My thoughts and condolences are with his family, his partner, and his friends and colleagues at this difficult time."
The RAF Regiment is tasked with protecting the security of the airfield at Camp Bastion so British aircraft can safely take off and land.
SAC Wojtak was taking part in a regular patrol to prevent insurgents launching an attack on the base.