Obituary: Lt. Col. Christopher 'Otis' Raible / Irwin man one of 2 Marines killed in Taliban attack on Afghan base

Died Sept. 14, 2012

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An Irwin native who commanded a Marine Harrier jet squadron was one of two Marines killed in Friday's bold Taliban attack on a NATO base in Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Christopher "Otis" Raible, 40, leader of Marine Attack Squadron 211 based in Arizona, died in the assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, which the Taliban announced was launched to kill Britain's Prince Harry, an Apache helicopter pilot stationed there.

The Department of Defense on Monday confirmed Lt. Col. Raible's death and that of another Marine, Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Ind.

Belvina Raible, Lt. Col. Raible's mother in Irwin, could not be reached Monday.

One Marine colleague posted a goodbye on a military service academy forum, saying Lt. Col. Raible was a "true professional" and a dedicated warrior.

"I will be there at Arlington to pay my respects the day you are finally laid to rest," he wrote.

The details of how Lt. Col. Raible died aren't clear.

Late Friday, 15 heavily armed insurgents dressed in U.S. Army uniforms split into three teams and stormed British-operated Camp Bastion, which is connected to an American-run base known as Camp Leatherneck.

The Taliban fighters penetrated the perimeter and attacked the shared airbase, destroying six Marine AV-8B Harrier jump-jets and damaging two others. It was the worst loss of U.S. military aircraft since the Vietnam War.

The Taliban also damaged some hangars and destroyed three refueling stations.

Nine coalition personnel were wounded in the attack. Coalition forces killed 14 of the insurgents and took one captive after wounding him.

Raised in Irwin, Lt. Col. Raible attended Norwin High School, where he excelled at academics and played football.

He graduated in 1990 in the top 10 percent of his class of 520. The school board planned to read a statement of sympathy at Monday night's board meeting, saying that the district "recognizes Lt. Col. Raible's courage, bravery and devotion to duty as an American patriot."

After high school, Lt. Col. Raible attended Kent State University and transferred to Carnegie Mellon, graduating in 1995 with a civil engineering degree.

Rather than enter the workforce, he joined the Marines to become a pilot, training in Florida, Mississippi and Texas.

After qualifying in the Harrier AV-8B in September 1999, Lt. Col. Raible was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 223 in Cherry Point, N.C., and later participated in Operation Enduring Freedom aboard the USS Bataan.

In 2005, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.

From July 2006 to August 2009, Lt. Col. Raible served as an instructor pilot at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 in Yuma, Ariz., and deployed several times to Japan and Iraq.

He was later promoted to commander of Marine Attack Squadron 211 based in Yuma, where he left behind his wife, Donella, and their three children, ages 11, 9 and 2.

Lt. Col. Raible had flown more than 2,000 hours in the Harrier AV-8B and won several medals and campaign awards.

Funeral arrangements are not complete.

obituaries

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com


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