Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Orrin Farmer

On the night of Sept. 14, 2012, a group of 15 Taliban fighters split into three five-man teams and snuck through the outer perimeter of Camp Bastion, a sprawling compound in Afghanistan’s Helmand province that served as a base of operations for nearly 30,000 NATO troops, most of them British soldiers and U.S. Marines. Their attack prompted an immediate battle on the flight line. Initiated when the insurgents began firing rockets at aircraft, the fight drummed on through the night in violent bursts as the heavily-armed insurgents maneuvered in the darkness, hellbent on killing as many Western troops as they could. The plan, as later explained by one of the insurgents, was to kill them in their sleep.

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