BERTHOUD, Colo. (KDVR) — As the U.S. nears the completion of its withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, we’re learning more about that 20-year-long battle from someone who fought it.
U.S. Army Spc. Gabriel Conde, 22, of Berthoud, was killed in action in Afghanistan three years ago while confronting the Taliban in the Kapisa province. He was providing cover for the men in his platoon so they could make it to safety.
“And what we realized later after we got the autopsy was, he wore a shemagh that day [an Afghan head wrap] across his chest, and it had six bullet holes in it,” his father, Robert Conde, told FOX31. “He had been killed by a single, small arms fire bullet. Killed him instantly. But he had already taken bullets to his body armor and his chest, and he still stayed in there, calling out enemy positions, right to the bitter end.”
Conde died on April 30, 2018. But his words live on in the form of old writings, journal entries and poems. And his father recently compiled them into a book that he hopes might inspire, console and comfort other military families — and the rest of us too.
The book is called “And Evil Shall Be Vanquished: A Warrior’s Anthology of Original Poetry and Other Writings.” Gabriel had been writing poems for years, his mother told FOX31.
“As he went through high school, he began to write longer poems and share those with us, and we were kind of like, ‘Wow, he’s a really good writer.’ He went into the military and continued to write and write more, and every time we had a phone conversation, he had another poem to share,” Donna Conde said.
The family didn’t realize how much he’d been writing about his military experience until his laptop was sent home after his death. It was full of stories, poems and thoughts. Conde was writing about his military experience, from basic training to his deployment. As the family read his words, they realized a book would be a good idea.
The poems talk about heroism, military life, service and sacrifice. And while their tone is dark at times, their overall message is one that provides hope and comfort to the Conde family as they mourn their son.
“Because I feel like he left this as a part of himself. This is with us forever,” Donna Conde said. “It is precious. If anybody could have a book like this that somebody left behind, they are lucky.”
The book is available for purchase online.