Kenneth Conde Jr

ORLANDO, FL, USA U.S. Marines SGT, WPNS CO, 2D BN, 4TH MAR, 1ST MAR DIV, CAMP PENDLETON, CA AL ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ 07/01/2004

A Marine who refused to return to the United States after he was wounded in combat in Iraq in April has been killed in action, his father and military officials confirmed Friday.

Sergeant Kenneth Conde Jr., 23, of Orlando, died Thursday while fighting in Anbar province, Iraq, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

“He had to be the best at anything he did,” said his father, Kenneth Conde Sr., a former Marine himself. “He wouldn’t back down from any challenge. Once he focused on something, there was nothing to sideline him.”

One thing that did sideline Conde Jr., but not for long, was a bullet that went into his left shoulder and out through his back during a gun battle in Ramadi last April. When Conde went down, he heard insurgents cheering and that made him mad, said his father.

“After he fell down, they started cheering and he just got angry and got back up and his platoon kept going forward,” Conde Sr. said. “He refused to receive medical attention until his arm became so numb that he couldn’t hold his weapon anymore. As long as he could fight, he wasn’t going to stop.”

Conde Jr. decided to stay in Iraq despite his injury. His platoon, part of Mobile Assault Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton, Calif., is scheduled to return to the United States in September.

“His Marines depended on him,” his father said. “He was not going to leave his platoon.”

Conde Jr. enjoyed art and weightlifting and joined the Marines out of high school, following in his father’s footsteps.

“As a Marine, I understand the decisions he made. I respect them,” Conde Sr. said. “As a father, I wish he had come home … Hopefully, it’s going to be worth something and not just be a number or a statistic.”

Kenneth’s portrait is also located on Poster 7