Commanding Officer of the Harrier squadron decimated at Camp Bastion among the Marines killed in the Taliban attack

Lt. Col. Chris Raible, the commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, smiles after landing the first AV-8B Harrier jet from Marine Attack Squadron 211 aboard Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, July 1. The landing marked the squadron's official move from Kandahar Airfield to Camp Bastion. Raible, a Pittsburgh native, praised the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) efficiency in establishing all new hangars and workspaces for the squadron. Raible explained that his squadron will now be able to conduct more combat operations and communicate more effectively with the ground combat element now that they are in close proximity to all the units they support.

The Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 “Avengers” that was decimated on Friday Sept. 14, when a force of insurgents attacked Camp Bastion, in Helmand, has not only lost two Marines and eight of the ten AV-8B+ Harrier jets deployed in Afghanistan.

According to, Marine and family sources have confirmed that Lt. Col. Chris “Otis” Raible, commanding officer of the Yuma squadron is among the killed in action of the unprecedented attack that resulted in the destruction of six jump jets and significant damage (possibly beyond repair) to two more Harriers belonging to the VMA-211, the unit he commanded.

The VMA-211 is part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered in San Diego at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Raible led the “Avengers” when the unit, deployed to Afghanistan in April 2012, relocated from Kandahar Airfield to Camp Bastion on Jul. 1 and he’s depicted in most of the images released by the U.S. Marine Corps to give account of the transfer.

Camp Bastion was in close proximity to all the units they supported and this gave the VMA-211 the opportunity to conduct more combat operations and communicate more effectively with the ground combat element.

Unfortunately neither Raible nor the rest of the “Avengers” could predict the attack that cost the U.S. the worst air loss to enemy fire in one day since the Vietnam War, that has rendered the Squadron unable to support the troops in the ground and compelled the Marine Corps to fly the remaining two airframes back home.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. They were caught napping. This even wasn’t the first attack of its kind. Apparently it followed the pattern of an earlier attack, according to Aljazeera

    • There’s nothing more disgusting that taking a cheap shot for political gains on the backs of killed men.

      • NO, a cheap shot is what happened to our Marines. Obama doesn’t know what leadership is. Had he been leading this would not have happened!! Wake up America, before we are all “desimated”. I am so very sorry for the loss we suffered!

      • No cheap shots. Marco, you need to get educated on B.O.’s rules of engagement. Obamas ROE has resulted in triple the amount of deaths in the past 3 years, than 7 years of G. Bush. Our Muslim president is killing our guys and gals in uniform by restricting how and when they can shoot. Google Obamas ROE and quit defending this man, it is indefensible. .

  2. The unit wasn’t “decimated.” That term refers to a Roman punishment where a poorly performing unit would have one in ten soldiers selected and killed as group punishment. The squadron was certainly devastated but not decimated.

    • Jordan, You’re absolutely right, but you have to understand, if my baby drops his spoon – it’s Obama’s fault. If I trip and fall, it’s Obama’s fault. Who else can we blame? We thank God when something good happens, but he’s nowhere in sight when things go wrong – but Obama is.

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