MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
In the clearness of the Afghan night, a platoon of Marines began their assigned mission. Suddenly they found themselves surrounded by enemy insurgents who initiated waves of attack on their position. Over the next six days the Marines experienced the toughest battles they saw during their deployment.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, led by Platoon Commander 1st Lt. Kenneth Conover, defended against a six-day organized enemy attack while operating in Qaleh-ye Gaz, Afghanistan. In the midst of the attack, Conover identified and destroyed an enemy firing position, directed the employment of 38 tank main gun rounds, organized four artillery strikes and four close air support strikes. His efforts resulted in repelling 23 direct enemy attacks, 10 of which were enemy attempts to overrun their position.
Conover’s actions earned him the Silver Star Medal, the military’s third highest award, while serving as the platoon commander for 1st platoon, Delta Co. 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, from June 22, 2012 through June 27. Conover wears the medal as a representation of the Marines who fought hard and gave their lives as well.
"I couldn’t have been set up with better men or better Marines,” said Conover, a native of Fallbrook, Calif. “I will wear this medal every day and think of the Marines who were not able to come home with us.”
Conover said he was humbled to receive an award of this caliber because many who receive the Silver Star Medal do so posthumously.
“I’m proud to represent the Marines I was able to serve and deploy with to Afghanistan,” Conover said. “I’m proud of the families who sent their sons to be Marines and the outstanding men they turned out to be.”
Lieutenant Gen. John Toolan, the commanding general for I Marine Expeditionary Force, said Conover demonstrated all the skills of a platoon commander while deployed. From maneuvering his platoon, coming into contact with the enemy, setting up fire positions and engaging the enemy, he showed the courage and heroism which earned him the Silver Star Medal.
“I believe Marines who wear awards such as this, wear it because there were Marines who didn’t come back with them,” Gen. Toolan said. “They wear it because forever more they will remember them and it signifies to them that those Marines were the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Conover received the Silver Star Medal along alongside three other Marines who received an award for their actions during the battalion’s deployment.
“What Marine Corps infantrymen are willing to do on a daily basis is to fight for the man on the right and left of them,” said former Sgt. Nicholas N. Brandau, who was a squad leader with the company at the time. “That’s what those Marines did and that’s why I’m humbled to have served with them. For those we did lose, we will always remember them.”
Conover’s next step in his career will be studying financial management at the Naval post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif. Upon completion of the course he plans to come back to the Fleet Marine Force to serve with his Marines once again.