Sgt. Thomas R. MacPherson -- who was killed Friday in Afghanistan -- was a Ray-Bans-and-shorts Californian, a new dad who loved movies, guns, "Seinfeld" and the beach, his wife said Monday.
At his sister's wedding on June 16, even though he was donning a brand new suit, Thomas stayed true to his California style.
"He kept his Ray-Bans on," Claudia MacPherson told NBC4.
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"It's nice to have that memory of him, and to share that with him and his baby sister -- it being our wedding anniversary, too," Claudia said. "It's nice to know that his extended family, their last memory of Tommy was him walking his mom and grandmother down the aisle."
On Oct. 12, Thomas, 26, died from small arms fire during a patrol in Afghanistan's Andar District, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. It was his fourth deployment to Afghanistan. He also served in Iraq.
He is survived by his wife Claudia, 23, and their 17-month-old son Brayden Thomas.
"He wanted to serve his country. That's what he wanted to do. It was something that he was very, very passionate about," Claudia said.
"He was very loving to Brayden and I, always. That's the one thing that's very comforting to me, just knowing there's no doubt in my mind that he loved us… we were his world," she said.
Claudia and Tommy met in 2004 at the Los Alamitos High School prom. They were in the same prom group, and although they were not each other's dates that night, they reconnected that summer after Thomas graduated.
They wed three years ago.
"He loved us and he was a kind person and he was willing to be brave enough to defend that which he cared about," Claudia said. "He was a man of few words a lot of the time. He was hard to read. A lot of people, I feel, didn't know the kind and gentle side of Tommy … once you got to know him, he was very patient -- very, very patient."
To his fellow soldiers, Thomas was known as "the laid-back boy from California," according to his wife.
"He always said he wanted to come back to the beaches of California," Claudia said. "We enjoyed the ocean, whether it was a walk on the pier or a walk on the sand."
"Tommy was obviously young at 26 when he passed," Claudia said. "…As a mother, it's great for me to know that his mom and dad saw him grow up to be a man, a husband and beyond that, a father -- things you don't really understand until you experience it."
Thomas MacPherson, who enlisted in the Army in 2007, served as a mortarman and team leader. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.