CAMP HURICANE POINT, Iraq -- All Sgt. Kenneth K. Conde Jr., ever wanted to do was be a Marine Corps infantryman.
He had been living his dream for a little more than five years when he was killed July 1 after an improvised explosive device attack during a patrol through the heart of Ar Ramadi.
Conde was a squad leader with 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon, Mobile Assault Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. The Marines of the battalion gathered here July 7 for an evening memorial service to honor the sergeant's memory.
"Today, we are saying good bye to a Marine that made us all better Marines and men, whether it was the training he provided us or the example he set," said Capt. Rob S. Weiler, MAC commander. "He made us all better."
Conde, of Orlando, Fla., had already proven himself in the heat of combat.
On April 6, Marines from the battalion were involved in fierce gun battles with anti-Coalition fighters.
Conde's squad was sent out to reinforce Company G, which was engaged with enemy combatants along a stretch of road known as "Easy Street."
When his squad arrived to the fight, the sergeant was unable to distinguish from where the enemy was firing. He and two of his squad members left the safety of their armored humvee and ran uncovered through the street pointing out enemy positions, which were subsequently destroyed.
During the assault, the 23-year-old was shot through his left shoulder, right above his "Ryde or Die" tattoo.
Even after being shot, Conde stayed in the fight. He got to his feet and fired several shots at his attacker. He was treated by a Navy hospital corpsman on the scene and returned to duty.
"He continued to lead his squad throughout the day destroying additional enemy positions," Weiler explained. "The following day, while in extreme pain, he once again led his Marines in a high intensity battle with success. And he probably would have continued to lead his Marines for several days if his arm would have not gone numb."
Lance Cpl. David J. Silton, a member of Conde's squad, said his actions during that week did not come as a surprise to him.
"Sergeant Conde was a Marine's Marine and a man's man," said Silton, of San Diego. "He was a fighter trained for combat. He exceeded everyone's expectations. That was just like him."
Both Silton and Lance Cpl. Matthew Aaron Cox, one of the two Marines who assaulted through Easy Street with Conde, described the sergeant as a great leader who was more like a brother.
"He treated everyone like men," explained Cox, of Saint Peters, Mo. "He brought everyone together. He was awesome."
According to Cox, Conde was devoted to the Marine Corps and his family.
"He loved his mom. He talked about her a lot," said Cox, who knew for Conde for two and a half years.
Conde, a fan of rap music and video games, was planning to marry his girlfriend of three years, Yuri. He met her when he was stationed in Japan several years ago.
The sergeant was planning to leave the Marine Corps to pursue other interests.
"He always wanted to be the best at whatever he did. He had proven he was the best Marine and he wanted to move on to something else," Silton said. "He wanted to be the best husband and father he could."
But those plans came to a halt July 1 when anti-Coalition fighters detonated a homemade bomb near Conde's vehicle.
"After the IED went off, I saw Sergeant Conde lying there unconscious," Cox said. "We drove him to Combat Outpost for medical care."
He was stabilized and transported to another medical facility in the area.
"The doctors who treated him said he fought to the end," Cox said. "He did just what he always did."