CONIFER, Colo. (KDVR) — A man from Colorado was identified as one of three U.S. Marines killed after an aircraft crashed during a military exercise in Australia on Sunday.

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Tobin J. Lewis, 37, was born and raised in Conifer. In the Lewis family’s Conifer home, pictures from boyhood to fatherhood capture his passion.

“As a kid, his walls were papered with airplanes, posters, models,” Lewis’ father, Norman said. His brother Ron added. “We’d chase each other around the house, flying planes. But he made it become a reality.”

Lewis’ grandfather was a pilot who served the United States.

“He would follow him around and help him do the things on his plane, always wanted to fly with him,” Lewis’ mother, Kathy, said.

Norman said he knew since his son was a child that he was an honorable and godly person.

“He bled integrity,” Norman said. “Those were values of his. Even from a young boy, he was a rule follower. And he wanted everybody to follow the rules. Even in soccer games.”

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Tobin J. Lewis (U.S. Marine Corps)

‘He was a gentle warrior’

Lewis left his favorite state of Colorado to serve the U.S. across the country and the world. The U.S. Marine Corps shared a summary of his accomplishments:

Tobin Lewis commissioned in the Marine Corps on August 22, 2008, and was promoted to the rank of Major on October 1, 2018. He has served in Pensacola, FL, Corpus Christi, TX, Jacksonville, NC, and Okinawa, Japan, before arriving at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, HI. Maj Lewis, an MV-22B pilot, received two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.

U.S. Marine Corps

Along with serving as a major in the Marines, Lewis was a devoted son, brother, husband and father to three.

“He was a gentle warrior. His girls were everything to him, they loved him,” Norman said. “But he also was competitive and loved his country and defended the right for us to speak freely and to have faith freely, and that’s that’s who he was.”

Pictures from his last deployment to Australia capture goodbyes with Lewis and his girls. His family told FOX31 that this deployment was an opportunity to train some of the younger pilots in the Osprey aircraft and help them get their qualifications.

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Tobin J. Lewis and his children (Courtesy of his family)

The Lewis family is now learning what happened in his final moments when the Osprey he was training in crashed.

“We heard from the men who were in the plane acknowledging that he laid down his life to save theirs, and that means the most to us, because he was a man of faith,” Kathy said. “He truly believed in Jesus Christ as a savior. And Jesus said there’s no love greater than to lay your life down for your friends. And that’s what he did.”

‘A man of valor’

His steadfast faith is ingrained in even the youngest he raised, now more than ever.

“His middle daughter, Nora, said something like, ‘So daddy’s in heaven for real now,’” Ron said. “Just a testament to who he was, establishing faith in them.”

The Lewis family told FOX31 his wife just recently had the opportunity to watch him fly in the Pacific Coast Airshow in Australia. He sent her home with gifts for his girls.

“Definitely a man of valor,” Ron said. “He was stoic and confident, but also tender-hearted and willing to do whatever necessary. We were raised that way: work hard, take care of what you need to do, spend time with your family. And he was a true picture of that.”