by Shaun Milne
THE wife of a Scots soldier who died after a brave six week battle to overcome injuries suffered in Afghanistan tonight described him as being her “best friend”.
Kylie Mason said she knew she had “struck gold” when she met and later married Corporal Tam Mason, 27, who passed away on Sunday.
Last night said she was “devastated” by his death.
Her 27-year-old husband, who was born in Bellshill in Lanarkshire but brought up in Rosyth, Fife, served with The Black Watch as part of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
The martial arts expert was evacuated to hospital in the UK for specialist treatment having been injured by an IED – improvised explosive device in Kandahar province on September 15.
But despite the best efforts of his army buddies, field medics and latterly specialists at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Selby Oak Hospital, he succumbed to his injuries.
Last night Kylie paid a moving tribute to her “honey”.
She said: “I have thought long and hard to find the right words to describe how Tam was and what he meant to me.
“But there are no words in the world that would even come close to describe what a great husband Tam was. He was the most genuine and kindest man I have ever known.
“He was my best friend and my wonderful husband.
“I am distraught that this has happened and still finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that I have lost my honey.
“I am also aware what a great soldier Tam was and how passionate he was about his job.
“The reason he loved his job so much was he had such fantastic friends in the Army who are equally as courageous as Tam was.
“I have so many happy memories of Tam that I am finding it difficult to pick out my most memorable or joyous occasion.
“However If I had to select one special day it has to be the day we were married which was the best day of my life.
“I know that I had struck gold with him and even though I am devastated and hurt that he has been taken from me I value and greatly appreciate the time we had together and will cherish these memories forever.”
Corporal Mason, who friends said was a keen amateur cook and budding pastry chef, was poised to try and win his place with Special Forces next year after a distinguished four year career.
Describing him as a soldier “at the top of his game”, Mortar Platoon Commander Captain David Mack said: “He was at his physical peak and thoroughly embraced the Scottish warrior ethos.
“Corporal Mason was a rugged, experienced, and hardened soldier who had been involved with the fiercest fighting that the battlegroup had witnessed.
“Often in the midst of a fight, Corporal Mason would heroically expose himself to enemy fire in order to get a vantage point to call in fire missions and strike the enemy with mortar fire.
Mortar Fire Controller Gordon Porter said: “Tam is an irreplaceable member of the Platoon and Battalion.”
He added: “He was a man of immense courage bringing in fire for his friends even when his own position was precarious and latterly with his long fight for his own life.”
This was his second tour of Afghanistan, deploying in March this year, having served there previously in 2006 as part of Operation HERRICK.
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright, Commanding Officer 3 SCOTS, added: “Corporal Tam Mason was a highly motivated and exceptional junior non-commissioned officer who had only been in the Army for four years.
“A late joiner to Service life, his experience and maturity allowed him to be promoted twice in quick succession, evidence of the talent of the man and the dedication he gave to his vocation.
“He had set his heart on Special Forces selection next year and no-one would have bet against him reaching his ultimate goal.
“He was an immensely popular and modest man and he will be sorely, sorely missed.
“He has given his life in the service of his friends in the Battalion, for the Royal Regiment of Scotland, his country, and the people of Afghanistan.
Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth MP, said: “It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Corporal Tam Mason, after his long fight for life at Selly Oak.
“It is clear that he was an exceptionally talented Junior NCO who had earned the utmost respect both of the soldiers he led and the officers he reported to.
“My thoughts are with Corporal Mason’s wife and family at this very difficult time.”
Details of his funeral are expected to be released in due course.