A highly decorated U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant major from Coeur d’Alene was killed in an explosion while serving his fourth tour in Iraq, the Defense Department said Friday.
Sgt. Maj. Bradly Conner, 41, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, headquartered at Fort Lewis, Wash. He fought in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including the capture of Baghdad International Airport, said his sister, Brenda Day, of Spokane Valley.
According to a statement by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, N.C., Conner’s convoy was ambushed near Al-Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, on Wednesday. Conner was fatally wounded when an improvised explosive device struck the M1114 armored personnel carrier in which he was riding.
Day said Conner was “headed out to check on his team” and that two other soldiers were injured in the blast.
Conner, the son of William and Kay Conner of Coeur d’Alene, was born in Tacoma on March 5, 1966.
He was a 1984 graduate of Kellogg High School, where he participated in football, basketball, track, choir and ROTC. He enlisted in the Army in 1987 after studying at the University of Idaho and North Idaho College, Day said.
He served in a number of Special Forces assignments with the 10th Special Forces Group before his assignment last year as company sergeant major with the 1st Special Forces Group. His latest deployment to Iraq was in March.
Conner’s numerous awards and military decorations include three Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.
He met his wife, Cynthia, at church while he was stationed at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., in 1989. They have three children, Aaron, 14, Katie, 12, and Rachel, 6. The family lives at Fort Lewis.
They were a special couple, Day said, citing an 85 percent divorce rate in the Special Forces. After being made sergeant major last year, Conner re-enlisted for another six years.
“The men that were under him had tremendous respect and admiration for him,” Day said. “He was a natural-born leader. He cared about everybody, no matter who they were.”
Conner is survived by his wife, children, parents and sister, as well as his brothers, Brian and Bruce Conner.
There will be a memorial service for Conner on Wednesday at Fort Lewis, Day said. He will be buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.