CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – From the moment I got here, it’s clear it was on people’s minds daily.
The Sept. 14 attack on neighboring Camp Bastion rattled many Marines and other coalition forces on this base. While technically a separate base, the two camps share a bus route and relatively easy access. European troops frequently visit the American PX store on Leatherneck, and Americans hop the bus to visit the pizza shop, coffee shop and other amenities on Bastion.
Like many other military journalists, I wrote about the attack on Bastion from my desk in D.C., relying equally on interviews, conventional wisdom about the base and my two previous embedded assignments in Helmand province.
When I arrived, however, I was struck by how much misinformation there was about the attack. For example, it has been reported repeatedly that the two Marine casualties in the battle, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, were killed in the same rocket-propelled grenade explosion. That’s simply not the case, say frustrated Marines who lived through the attack.
In this new story, I’ve attempted to set the record straight about as much of the battle as possible. There are undoubtedly still threads of which I’m not aware, but hopefully the account does justice to the heroic actions of many of those involved in repelling the attack.
These are the reasons journalists need to visit war zones. Sometimes, you have to get off the couch to tell the story right.