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Marines killed in airfield attack were stationed at Yuma, Ariz.

September 17, 2012 |  3:07 pm

Sgt. Bradley Atwell (right), Lt. Col. Christopher Raible

The two Marines killed Friday during a Taliban attack on a NATO airfield in Afghanistan were assigned to a squadron from the Marine air station in Yuma, Ariz., the Department of Defense announced Monday.

Killed were Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible, 40, of Huntingdon, Pa., and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Ind. Both were assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Raible, an AV-8B Harrier pilot, was commanding officer of the squadron. Atwell was an electrical systems technician. Raible had served in Iraq and was on his second tour in Afghanistan.

The two were killed when Taliban fighters broke through a wall at Camp Bastion, which is adjacent to the Marine base at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

The deaths of Raible and 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.

During the Friday night incident, 15 Taliban fighters staged a "well-coordinated attack" on the perimeter of Camp Bastion, armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests. The 15 attacked fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, aircraft hangars and other buildings, according to International Security Assistance Force officials.

Six Harrier jets and three refueling stations were destroyed, officials said. Also, two additional Harrier jets were damaged and six "soft-skin" aircraft hangars were damaged.

In a firefight, 14 of the Taliban fighters were killed and one was captured. In addition to the two Marine fatalities, eight other NATO coalition personnel and one civilian contractor were wounded.

The attack is under investigation, the Marine Corps said.

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 -- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photos: Sgt. Bradley Atwell (left), Lt. Col. Christopher Raible. Credit: Marine Corps

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