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The Meaning of Semper Fi - Rest Well Sergeant Conde

    "Some People Spend An Entire Lifetime Wondering If They Made A Difference...Marines Don't Have That Problem" - President Ronald Reagan, 1985

Marine Sergeant Kenneth Conde, a Marine who I described as one tough SOB, a Marine who was wounded and fought on to save his men, a Marine who refused to leave the battlefield, has fallen.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Kenneth Conde Jr., 23, of Orlando, Fla., died July 1 due to injuries received from enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

This is from his Blackfive profile as Someone You Should Know:

...The corpsman treated Conde, who only wanted to get his gear and get back to the fight. Conde's Marines were out there and he knew his place was alongside them.

"We stayed and fought until every one of the insurgents was dead," Conde said. Before the day was through, 3rd MAP also raided the house of a former Baath Party member and seized a large weapons cache.

Over the next few days, Conde's unit participated in several other firefights until the violence died down. All the while, he nursed his wound, not giving into the pain and refusing to leave his Marines.

Only when his arm went numb, making it difficult to hold his rifle steady, did he finally give in and step out of the fight.

Back at the camp here, Marines asked Conde why he chose to stay and fight even after being shot.

"I told them that I couldn't just leave the fight when I still could keep going," he told them.

But it his actions didn't surprise his fellow Marines.

"He always told us that he would lead us from the front, and that we would never do anything if he wasn't doing it too," Cox explained. "After being in that firefight with him, I will always know that he is true to his word."

And here is today's story from the Orlando Sentinel:

Marine killed in action had chance to leave
The Orlando resident, wounded in April, chose to stay and fight on
By Pamela J. Johnson | Sentinel Staff Writer

Sgt. Kenneth Conde Jr. could have had a safe trip home in April after he was wounded in a gunbattle with Iraqi insurgents, winning praise for his bravery.

Instead, the 22-year-old Orlando Marine chose to complete his mission.

On Thursday, his parents learned that Conde would never return. He had been killed in action.

Theresa Conde was too traumatized to talk about her only son Thursday night, said a friend who answered the door of the family home.

Kenneth Conde Sr., himself a former Marine, was in Atlanta on business when he heard of his son's death and was flying back to Orlando.

The younger Conde's mother had said earlier that she hoped her son's wound in April would be his ticket home.

She wished that her son, who kept fighting despite a bullet piercing his shoulder, would collect his Purple Heart and get out of Iraq.

"That's my baby," Theresa Conde, 44, said in April. "I thought this was my chance to get him back. I thought, 'OK, you're a hero. Now come home.' "

But deep inside, she knew.

"He's not the type to quit," she said then. "He's looking out for his platoon. And he was angry that he was shot. It didn't surprise me that he stayed."

In April, Conde was shot in the left shoulder as he ran down a street in Ramadi, shooting at insurgents who were firing at his platoon from rooftops.

Conde's platoon was in the Sunni Triangle to retrieve wounded soldiers.

The Triangle is an area stretching from Baghdad north to Tikrit and west to Ramadi known as the "killing zone" because 80 percent of guerrilla attacks take place there.

The 27-man platoon came under fire, and Conde and the others kept firing until all of the insurgents were killed.

When Conde was shot and fell to the ground, he heard Iraqi insurgents cheering, he told his father. He became enraged.

"He had to get back up," Conde Sr., 43, recounted in April.

Bleeding profusely, Conde rose to his feet with a burst of adrenaline.

"Come on, let's get 'em!" Conde said, recounting the story to his father. He fired more rounds before falling to the ground a second time.

Then, after being treated by a corpsman, he grabbed a gun and returned to battle.

The young Marine kept fighting despite his badly injured left arm, stopping only when it became so numb he could no longer hold a rifle.

"I couldn't just leave the fight when I still could keep going," Conde told his fellow Marines.

His parents said that they had been told their son would be nominated for a Bronze Star for heroism.

"He always has to be the best at anything he does," his father said. "I told him, 'You're a better Marine than I ever was.' "

Conde's platoon, part of Mobile Assault Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, is scheduled to return home in September.

Upon his return, he had planned to marry a woman he met while based in Japan...

There aren't any details, yet, as to how Sergeant Conde died. Rest assured, he was faithful to his God, his Country, his Corps.

He will never be forgotten.

Semper Fi, Sergeant Conde, Semper Fi