During the hourslong gunfight, Sgt. Conde was wounded by an enemy bullet that passed through his right shoulder. His Bronze Star citation for "uncommon courage and bravery as his platoon came under intense enemy small arms and medium machine gun fire" also describes how "he showed little concern for his wounds and personal safety and continued to lead his squad from the front, closing with and destroying the enemy position." After receiving brief medical attention from his platoon's Navy corpsman, Sgt. Conde refused to be evacuated and, moments later, "led his squad in securing another objective," where he captured an enemy combatant. Despite his painful wounds, he "continued to lead his squad in high intensity combat operations for the next 48 hours."
Shortly after the battle, Sgt. Conde consented to a live interview on Fox News Channel. I asked him why he refused evacuation to a field hospital -- and a possible trip home. His response: "There is no other choice for a sergeant in the Marine Corps. You have to lead your Marines." On July 1, just eight days after his 23rd birthday, Sgt. Conde was killed in action by an improvised explosive device that detonated beneath his vehicle.
When I interviewed his dad this week, Kenneth Conde Sr. told our Fox News team: "He was my only son, and I miss him more than I can describe. I'm grateful for the time we had him with us. He is still my inspiration. And this building named for him will motivate generations of Marines to the ideals of duty, courage and perseverance."
Those words from a grief-stricken father ought to inspire all of us this holiday season. Though few of our countrymen even know the name of someone serving in our armed forces, Thanksgiving is a good time to get down on our knees and thank God for blessing this nation with soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines willing to go in harm's way to protect us all.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.