Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Christopher

Last Name: Raible

Birthplace: McKeesport, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Keith

Date of Birth: 18 August 1972

Date of Death: 15 September 2012

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served: 1995 - 2012
Christopher Keith Raible
'Call Sign:Otis'

•  Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)
•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


Christopher Keith Raible
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps

Christopher Keith Raible was born on 18 August 1972 in McKeesport, PA, son of Alvin C. and Kim Piotrowski Raible. A native of North Huntingdon, PA, after graduating from Norwin High School in 1990 he attended Kent State University in Kent, OH, for two years. He then transferred to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, PA, and graduated in 1995 with a B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering.

After graduation from CMU, on 21 May 1995 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After completing the Basic Officer Course at The Basic School in Quantico, VA, he entered flight training that took place in Florida, Mississippi and Texas. (During his training in Florida in 1996, he met his future wife, Donnella, in her hometown of Pensacola.) Raible qualified in the Harrier AV-8B in September 1999 and was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 223 at Cherry Point, NC. He later participated in Operation Enduring Freedom aboard the USS Bataan.

In 2005, Raible deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. From July 2006 to August 2009, he served as an instructor pilot at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (AZ), and deployed several times to Japan, and to Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In April 2012, LtCol Raible, an AV-8B Harrier pilot (call sign: Otis), was serving as Commanding Officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211 (also known as the VMA-211 Avengers), Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (AZ). That month his Squadron was deployed on a 1-year combat tour to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On 1 July, LtCol Raible flew the first AV–8B Harrier attack jet from Kandahar to Camp Bastion as the Avengers were moved to the British-run International Security Assistance Force base and airfield located in the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan to complete the last 7 months of their deployment. Other British Forces were also stationed there.

At about 10:15 p.m. on Friday, 14 September, LtCol Raible had just finished having dinner with one of his deputies, Maj Greer Chambless, and was preparing to go to his quarters to have a video-chat with his wife Donnella and their 3 children, who were at their home in Yuma, AZ. At that time, the first blasts were heard from the flight line as 15 Taliban insurgents, wearing U.S. Army uniforms and armed with rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), machine guns, and suicide vests, launched a coordinated attack that breached Camp Bastion’s perimeter. The insurgents immediately began destroying Harriers. Quickly putting on body armor and armed only with his semi-automatic 9-millimeter pistol (his rifle was not near that location), after checking on his Marines in billeting, LtCol Raible moved to the point of attack. He observed that the attackers had split into 3 groups: 2 were focused on destroying aircraft and the 3rd hurried to kill Marines as they slept.

Under enemy fire, Raible moved across an open area of about 100 yards and acquired a handful of mechanics, avionics technicians, landing support specialists, and bulk fuelers to form a quick reaction force. Organizing a hasty counterattack, LtCol Raible split his small force into 2 groups. One group engaged the Taliban headed toward the main side of Camp Bastion, while Raible led the other 8 Marines to engage the insurgents in a maintenance hangar.

Raible’s aggressive counter attack forced the Taliban to break off their assault and seek cover. That action allowed dozens of Marines to find a more secure firing position from which to limit the enemy’s advance. The AH–1W Cobra and UH–1Y Huey helicopters stationed at Camp Bastion began to take off in order to avoid the flames from burning aircraft. While Raible and his team engaged the insurgents in the hanger, the now-airborne helicopters used their night vision equipment and infrared sensors to spot the enemy and commence gun and rocket attacks on them.

The defense of Camp Bastion became stronger as more Marines arrived to reinforce vital positions. A dismounted helicopter crew fired a 240G machinegun at the enemy's RPG flashes and other Marines engaged the Taliban from the bus normally used to transport flight crews to chow. The deadly fight raged for 4 hours until Marines killed 14 of the insurgents and captured one wounded man. The Marines and British troops spent the rest of the night ensuring that there were no more infiltrators.

At some point during the 4-hour firefight, LtCol Raible and Sgt Bradley Atwell were both killed by shrapnel from rocket propelled grenades. They were the only Marines killed. Eight other Marines were wounded, 1 civilian contractor was wounded, 6 AV–8B Harrier attack aircraft were destroyed, and 2 other Harriers badly damaged. Three refueling points were also destroyed.

The Wall Street Journal described the attack as “the biggest single-day loss of U.S. combat aircraft since the Vietnam War.” Marine MajGen Mark Gurganus, Commander of Regional Command (Southwest), said the attack was well-planned, well-rehearsed, and “not conducted by a bunch of yahoos.” Reports from the Marine Corps indicate that LtCol Raible’s calm, decisive, heroic actions and his aggressive leadership of those few Marines at hand, were key factors in creating an effective defense of the Camp. His quick thinking prevented the Taliban from infiltrating throughout the base and stopped the massacre of sleeping Marines that the insurgents had planned.

[Special Note: On 14 September, one of the men on the British base was an AH-64 Apache helicopter co-pilot and gunner named Captain “Wales,” more commonly known as Harry, Prince of Wales. He had deployed to Camp Bastion for a 4-month combat tour and arrived on 7 September. It appears that he was one of the targets of the Taliban attack (his birthday was 15 September). On 10 September, 3 days after Harry's arrival in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid spoke to Reuters and was quoted as saying; "We are using all our strength to get rid of him, either by killing or kidnapping," and "We have informed our commanders in Helmand to do whatever they can to eliminate him." The only “good” news about the attack was that Prince Harry was unharmed. He was taken to a “safe area” of the base and given extra security.]


Raible and Donnella had three children: Catherine (16), Allison (14), and Brian (7). (Ages as of May 2017)

Medals, Awards and Badges

Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device
Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with Strike/Flight Numeral 15
Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star
Navy & Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Star
Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Star
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with Bronze Star
NATO Service Medal - International Security Assistance Force
Naval Aviator Badge

Flight Experience

At the time of his death, LtCol Raible had logged more than 2,000 hours of flight time in the Harrier AV-8B.


● Since 2013, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Carnegie Mellon University has celebrated Chris’ life by presenting the LtCol Christopher K. Raible Distinguished Public Service Award to CEE alumni who have contributed substantially to the engineering profession.
● The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has established an endowed scholarship in the name of Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Keith Raible.


Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Keith Raible is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Arlington County, VA, in Section 60, Site 10217.


[For information about ways you can help fund the LtCol Christopher K. Raible USMC Endowed Scholarship, please contact Jody Brooks at (410) 703-7030 or email jody.brooks@datocwitten.com.]

Honoree ID: 10321   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image