In the dead of night in September 2012, a U.S. Marine Corps outpost in Afghanistan awoke to the sound of gunfire and explosions. Taliban fighters had infiltrated Camp Bastion and were destroying high-value AV-8B Harrier Jump Jets sitting on the tarmac. The squadron commander of Marine Attack Squadron 211, deployed to Bastionin support of ground operations in Afghanistan, ran towards the sounds of chaos with only a pistol, organizing Marines to repel the attack before he was fatally wounded.
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.