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Two Marines killed in Afghanistan identified
The commanding officer of the VMA-211 attack squadron and a sergeant in Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 were the two locally based Marines killed last week during an insurgent attack on a southwestern Afghanistan base.
The Department of Defense announced Monday that Lt. Col. Christopher "Otis" K. Raible and Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell died in the attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The attack on the flight line also destroyed six Harriers, heavily damaged two more, destroyed three refueling stations and damaged six hangars.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command press desk confirmed that VMA-211 is the only Marine Corps Harrier squadron currently in Afghanistan. "Avengers," as squadron members are nicknamed, had been deployed since April.
"The deaths of Lt. Col. Chris ‘Otis’ Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell are a stark reminder of the selfless service and extraordinary sacrifices made by our Marines and sailors and their families each and every day," said Brig. Gen. Steven W. Busby, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those brave Marines. We will honor their memories and continue to support our Marines and sailors still in the fight and their loved ones here at home."
Capt. Staci Reidinger, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, said it’s been a solemn time at the base.
Memorial services are still pending, and it's unknown at this time if they will be open to the public.
The fighting flared when a group of insurgents breached the perimeter fence at Camp Bastion at about 10 p.m. (Afghanistan time) Friday and attacked the flight line with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide bomb vests, according to ISAF. Coalition forces killed 14 of the 15 insurgents, who were reportedly wearing U.S. Army uniforms, and wounded and captured the remaining enemy combatants.
Eight coalition military members and one civilian contractor were also wounded. Their injuries were reported as non-life-threatening.
Raible, 40, of Huntingdon, Pa., had been in the Marine Corps for 17 years. Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Ind., was an electrical systems technician. He had been in the Marine Corps for nearly seven years.
Raible commissioned in the Marine Corps after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995 with a degree in civil engineering, according to his military biography. He had more than 2,000 hours in the Harrier AV-8B and had previously deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Air Medal-Strike/Flight (numeral 10), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (second award), Air Medal-Individual Action, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal (second award), and NATO Service Medal-International Security Assistance Force.
Atwell’s awards include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (second award), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and NATO Service Medal-International Security Assistance Force.
Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered flags flown at half-staff through next Tuesday.
"I ask that my fellow Arizonans join me today in offering heartfelt prayers and deepest condolences for the families and friends of Lt. Col. Raible and Sgt. Atwell. Please also continue to pray for the men and women in our Armed Forces as they fight to protect our nation and defend our freedom."
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857.