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Norwin honors Marine killed in Afghanistan

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Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, 8:59 p.m.
 

Hundreds of family members, friends and members of the armed forces filled Norwin High School auditorium to near capacity Saturday as they gathered to celebrate Lt. Col. Christopher “Otis” Raible, a Norwin graduate who was killed in action last month.

Raible, 40, died leading a counterattack against enemy forces Sept. 14 at Camp Bastion in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

“When the bad guys got through the gate, Chris Raible made a decision. It was dark; it was chaotic. He organized his Marines and he led a counter attack on the bad guys, ” said Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command for the Marines.

Davis said he met Raible in 1998 and that Raible became his “favorite son.”

Raible was a “very creative, bright, wonderful guy” who studied hard, maintained a positive attitude and was always prepared for his flights, Davis said.

“This town should be so very proud. He exemplified the best in all of us,” Davis said.

After graduating from Norwin in 1990, Raible earned a degree in civil engineering at Carnegie Mellon University before being commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He began his career as an AV8 Harrier fighter pilot and went on to become commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211 Avengers (VMA-211).

Harrier aircrafts support ground troops and are designed to “take off like a helicopter and fly like a fighter jet,” said Ronald Peduzzi, a retired Norwin principal and retired Marine Corps colonel.

Peduzzi said Raible tackled many advanced classes in high school and graduated 32 of 520 in his class.

Raible received numerous military honors including the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and will be a recipient of the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, Combat Action Ribbon and an Air Medal with Strike 15 Award.

Longtime friend Arthur Pancoast said Raible always had a sense of loyalty to his friends and family and that when you were with him, “you were a unit.”

“There could not have been a better fit for who he was (than the military),” Pancoast said. “He could fly, but more importantly, he could also channel his sense of purpose into something meaningful and into the love of his country.”

“He gave us laughter and strength, discipline and hope, constancy and courage ... and ultimately his life, but wanted and expected nothing in return,” said family member Duane Raible.

The nearly 2 12-hour memorial also featured a video of Raible's “Dignified Transfer” at Dover Air Force Base, a photo montage of his life and remarks by many Marines who called Raible their mentor.

Capt. Nick Stewart called himself “an Otis disciple.”

“Otis was a great leader and instructor to me. Semper Fi, sir. Have a good flight.”

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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