Thomas Little, O.D., originally of Delmar, N.Y., was part of a group of 10 aid workers ambushed and killed in Nuristan province, Afghanistan.

Dr. Little was a part of the International Assistance Mission (IAM), a group that has been providing medical care in Afghanistan since 1966. He had moved to Afghanistan in the 1970s with his wife, Libby, to provide care for the people of the region.

“Tom … was the driving force behind much of what has been achieved in eye care in Afghanistan,” IAM director Dirk Frans said at a press conference. “He is irreplaceable.”

According to The New York Times, the aid workers (six Americans, one Briton, one German and four Afghans) were returning from a three-week trek on foot, during which they had delivered optometric care to the people of the remote valley regions.

They were accosted by gunmen and marched into the forest. The gunmen stood them in a line and shot them one by one.

Local police found the group’s bodies on Friday, August 6.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killings.

Mrs. Little, who was in the U.S. at the time of the aid mission, explained to Albany’s CBS 6 that she and her husband were driven to help the people of Afghanistan. “The valleys have begged for us to come,” she said. “Tom would get a regular call on Friday mornings from one of the valley leaders saying, ‘Please, come and do an eye camp here.’”

She flew back to Afghanistan on August 8 to make arrangements for her husband’s burial there.