September 20, 2012

Semper Fidelis Warriors, You Will Not Be Forgotten

Cpl. Aaron Diamant
Desert Warrior Staff
Photo by Capt. Tim Otten
Four AV-8B Harrier jets with Yuma’s Marine Attack Squadron 211 fly in formation over Wake Island, Jan. 5, on their way to Okinawa, Japan. The squadron earned the nickname of Wake Island Avengers due to its heroic defense of the island in December 1941. VMA-211 joined the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was involved in multiple multinational joint-service exercises.

“If the Army and the Navy ever look on heaven’s scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.”  -Marines Hymn


Two Yuma-based 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Marines died Sept. 15 while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan:

Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible, 40, of North Huntingdon, Pa., commanding officer, Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Ind., assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell (L) and Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible (R)

“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, 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.”

Lt. Col. Raible commissioned in the Marine Corps May 21, 1995 and served as an AV-8B Harrier pilot.  Raible deployed previously in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His personal 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.

“He was a very friendly guy, easy to talk to,” said Raible’s neighbor Justin Bristow, U.S. Border Patrol Yuma Sector Patrol Agent in Charge. “He was outside working on his yard and getting ready to have a swimming pool put in all the time before he left for Afghanistan, he had a great work ethic. He was a very impressive man, someone I will be able to draw on from my interactions with. I’ll be eternally grateful for his service and sacrifice to our nation’s defense.”

Sgt. Atwell enlisted in the Marine Corps October 17, 2005 and served as an electrical systems technician. His personal 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.

“He’s a part of our family,” said Gunnery Sgt. Mark Kloberdanz, MALS-13 work center staff noncommissioned officer in charge. “Sgt. Atwell was a wonderful Marine, a wonderful sergeant. We’ve received phone calls from every MALS in the Marines Corps about him, he’s been that much of a positive influence everywhere he’s been. He was a positive example for both his junior and senior Marines, and he will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him. He leaves behind a wonderful wife, who was truly the love of his life.”

Nearly 20 insurgents infiltrated the perimeter of Camp Bastion in Helmand province Sept. 15, and attacked International Security Assistance Force personnel and facilities using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide improvised explosive device vests. The attack, which began shortly after 10 p.m., killed the two Yuma-based Marines, wounded several others and caused damage to multiple aircraft and structures along the base’s flight line.

ISAF forces reacted to the assault, returned fire and killed all but one of the known insurgents, defeating the attack. ISAF personnel wounded the remaining insurgent attacker, who is in ISAF custody and is being treated in a medical facility.

Camp Bastion is currently secure. ISAF personnel cleared the large base of attackers throughout the night.

ISAF is in the process of fully assessing damages to aircraft and structures on the airfield. However, ISAF has determined that despite the damage, there will be no impact to ground or air operations from Camp Bastion.

In Yuma, Raible’s neighbors decorated the neighborhood with memorial ribbons and American flags, as tribute to his sacrifice for freedom.

The Yuma Military Affairs Committee is also donating memorial plaques to be displayed in the city’s Armed Forces Park in honor of the two Marines’ selfless sacrifice.

“We have lost two true patriots,” said Col. Michael J. Gough, commanding officer, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “We remember, honor, and value their selfless service to this nation and to our Marine Corps. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten. We appreciate the outpouring of sympathy from the local community and from distant friends and supporters. We are focused on caring for the families during this trying time. As always, we are also focused on our mission and will continue to train and deploy, while supporting our Marines and Sailors who are deployed.”

Please contact the MCAS Yuma Public Affairs Office at 928-269-3609/2275 or visit for more details about both memorial services.

This incident is currently under investigation in Afghanistan.

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