“He spent a lot of time on the phone, as much as he could spare calling his wife and kids,” Smalley said. “One of his favorite parts of the day was being able to talk to them and see their faces.”
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.
The week since the attack has been rough for the squadron’s Marines at Bastion as they have come to terms with the loss of their leader and most of the aircraft in the fleet.
“It’s been a busy week picking up the pieces,” said Smalley, the captain. “We’re focusing back on the mission at hand, getting Marines refocused on the fight. We have already resumed combat operations. We’re going to show the Taliban their little attack is not going to stop us.”