April 21, 2004

Where do we get such men as these?

Just one incident in the battle of Fallujah.

"We walked up to the third block past the vehicles and spotted a guy shooting at us from one of the rooftops," Conde said. "One of the gunners, Lance Corporal Matthew Brown, took that building out with his machine gun."

Conde, McKenzie and Cox kept searching for the enemy. They exposed themselves to fire because it was the only way they could get a good look at enemy's firing positions. As they pushed forward, Conde was able to take out two shooters, but then things took a turn for the worse.

"I was running, and I watched as I got shot in the left shoulder," Conde said. "I remember seeing a red mist coming from my back."

Even though he saw himself get shot, it didn't occur to Conde to quit fighting. "I didn't really realize I had been shot until one of the Marines said something," he added.

According to McKenzie, Conde fired several shots, killing a combatant, before falling to the ground. He then managed to get back to his feet and fire a few more rounds at the enemy before falling again.

"We helped him up so he could get to the corpsman to get bandaged up," McKenzie, a 22 year old from Bonaqua, Tenn. "We made sure to kill the guys who shot him."

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."

Posted by Ted at April 21, 2004 10:12 PM