Christopher Raible

Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible.

Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible

Died September 15, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

40, of North Huntingdon, Pa.; assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward); died Sept. 15 at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, when insurgents breached the base using small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Also killed was Marine Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell.

Bastion attack kills squadron CO, sergeant

Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible
Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible

U.S. forces in Afghanistan were moving forward Monday following a bold attack on Camp Bastion that killed two Marines, including the commanding officer of a Harrier squadron, wounded nine other U.S. personnel and destroyed six Harrier jump jets. Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, 40, and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, 27, were killed after 15 insurgents armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests breached the perimeter of Bastion about 10 p.m. Friday. Raible served as the commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, and Atwell was assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13. Both units are out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

The attack was launched on a British base that is home to several U.S. Marine aviation units and coalition forces from several other countries. It abuts Camp Leatherneck, the main hub of Marine operations in Afghanistan, forming a sprawling complex connected by bus routes and other services.

Sturdevant, commanding officer of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), told Marine Corps Times that the “more intense fighting was in the first hour or so” after the insurgents breached the wire. However, it took about five hours to ensure that the base was secure. Virtually all of the Marines working on the flight line at the time responded to the attack, as well as personnel with 3rd MAW (Fwd.) living on a nearby portion of Bastion, Sturdevant said.  “Had they not done what they did, it could have been a lot of worse,” Sturdevant said. “Obviously on the wing, we focus on fixing aircraft and flying those aircraft in support of ground forces. But, when forced to, we can quickly transition to offense on the ground, and that’s exactly what happened Friday night.”

U.S. military officials said Saturday that in addition to the two Marines killed, eight service members and one civilian contractor were wounded in the attack. None of their injuries are considered life-threatening, but Sturdevant said two of them have been medically evacuated to the U.S. for additional treatment.

Slain Marine commander’s actions in Afghanistan called heroic

Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible was heading home to video-chat with his wife after dinner when the first blasts rang out. The pops in the distance on Sept. 14 at Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan were harbingers of the most audacious Taliban attack on a major NATO base in the decade-long war.

Like most folks in the sprawling remote desert camp, Raible, 40, a Marine fighter pilot, faced two choices: seek cover or run toward the sound of gunfire. “The difference between me and some people is that when they hear gunfire, they run. When I hear gunfire, I run to it,” the squadron commander had often told his Marines, half in jest, recalled Maj. Greer Chambless, who was with Raible on the night of the attack. That evening, Raible did just that. Armed only with a handgun, he embarked on a course that cost him his life and probably averted even more devastating losses, witnesses and comrades said.

At least 15 heavily armed insurgents dressed in U.S. Army uniforms snuck inside the British-run airfield and incinerated six U.S. fighter jets, each worth about $25 million. The attack offered a sobering glimpse of the capabilities of the Taliban in Helmand province, one of the key targets of the American troop surge that ended this past week. It resulted in a staggering loss of military materiel and served as a reminder of the challenges of winding down the war by the end of 2014.

Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible
Marine Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible

By daybreak the next morning, as smoke stopped billowing from the airfield and weary commanders gave the all-clear to U.S. Marines and British Special Forces troops who spent the night defending the camp, it wasn’t the threats raised by the infiltration on the minds of many people on the base. Rather, they were primarily struck by the actions of a tough and widely admired commander who returned home in a coffin.

When it became clear Bastion was under attack, Raible threw on body armor and jumped in a vehicle with Chambless. Because his rifle was not nearby, the commander charged into the combat zone armed only with a handgun. The two men exchanged nary a word during the short drive as they scanned the landscape for insurgents. When they got to the flight line, Raible dashed into a maintenance room and began barking out orders to the Marines who would soon push the assailants back.

Backed by a handful of men, he ran toward another building to check whether the troops there were safe. Along the way, Raible and his men were attacked. He and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Ind., died of wounds from an explosion, said Lt. Col. Stewart Upton, a military spokesman. Chambless was devastated but not particularly surprised. “It was very fitting that he was killed leading his men from the front,” the major said.

The men Raible led out of the maintenance building fought back, pushing one team of five assailants into a remote area of the airfield, where they were killed in an airstrike. A Taliban statement said the intended purpose of the raid was to catch the foreign troops by surprise and attack them in bed. Upton said Raible and his men helped prevent what could have been catastrophic losses. Nine of the remaining assailants were killed in the following hours, and one was wounded. “The feeling is that because of the aggressive counter we were able to contain them,” Upton said.


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