Saturday, December 16, 2006

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicklas J. Palmer

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicklas J. Palmer, 19, of Leadville, Colo.

Lance Cpl. Palmer was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; killed Dec. 16 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Summit Daily News -- Summit County, CO Colorado LEADVILLE - "This is the hardest thing ... I am just numb," Rachele Palmer said from her home Tuesday.

It had only been 48 hours after she heard the news of her youngest son, Nick.

Nick Palmer died in Iraq over the weekend as a Marine. He was killed by a sniper while patrolling in a Humvee in Fallujah at the time. He was 19 years old.

The weekend before the holidays, the last thing the Palmer's wanted to hear about was the death of their son.

Rachele and her husband Brad had returned from a holiday party Saturday afternoon when three Marines arrived at their door with the news.

"It was actually kind of funny at first," Palmer said. His father Brad, director of Lake County Road and Bridge, thought Jehovah's Witnesses were coming to the door and asked his wife to attend to them.

But when his mother Rachele peeked through the three little windows at the front and saw that they were Marines, she said she went completely numb.

"I couldn't tell you what their names had been because I couldn't hear them," she said. "They came in and asked me some questions. If his name was Nick, if his name was Palmer, if we had a son in the Marines. I was numb for a long time. It's the hardest thing ...

"Every word out of their mouth was adding up and getting worse," she said, "they told me he was shot, that he had died. I didn't know what to think ... I couldn't think."

Giant of the gridiron

The family moved to Leadville in 1995. Nick spent most of his life in Leadville.

He lived the true American lifestyle. He grew up in a rural mountain community with a father who loved football, a caring mother and an older brother. The rest of the extended family live in Montana.

The family activities revolved around football, watching it, playing it or dreaming about it.

"They watched football," his mother said. "Saturday, there's college ball, then Sunday, Monday and Thursday there's pro football. You watch football or you go to the kitchen and cook like I do. He watched football."

Nick played football from the time he was in seventh grade all through high school. With the help from his father, he lettered all four years.

"He ran offensive and defensive (lineman)," his mother said. "He didn't like to come to the sidelines very often but he would do it because he knew the other kids wanted to play. He was very generous that way."

As a junior, Nick was thinking about his future. He knew he was going into the military, his mother said.

"As a mother, I said, 'Oh, my god, no,'" she said when he told her he decided to be a Marine. "This was when the war was in full-blown motion. It's not like it hadn't started yet. But he knew this is what he wanted to do ... he must have dreamt about being a Marine ... and he signed up for it."

His father shared similar views.

He told him: "You know, you're going to Iraq then?"

Fit for the journey

Palmer left for boot camp in San Diego shortly after graduation.

The Palmer's would hear from their son when he first arrived in Iraq three to four times a week. He discovered a phone bank close to his base and used it frequently. But as the weeks passed, the Palmer's heard less and less from him.

"The calls would come a little further between because he was out on patrol and they had to go and do what they had to do," Rachele said. "It was a week, week and a half when we'd hear from him. It was hard not to hear from him."

He told his mother that he worked long hours with hard work. That was his duty as a Marine.

He trained for nearly the entire year before he entered the Marines. He wanted to be physically fit and prepared for the journey and the experience.

The preparations consisted of endless hours at the gym, jogging, hiking and swimming with friends.

He carpooled with fellow friends who joined the Marines and trained as a group.

"He lived in the weight room," his mother said. "At 10,200 feet, if it's not hard enough for running, he would toss 30 to 40 pound weights in his back pack and run with that. It was mind boggling to see.

"He wanted to be fit all year round."

A quiet, serious young man at home, Nick shared a more jovial, humorous side with his friends, his mother said.

A joker and humorist, his mother recalls camping and fishing trips he would take with his family and some of the funny things he would do but said "he was Mr. Serious at home."

"He was a polite, well-mannered good kid," Rachele said.

A shower of condolences

Visitors from around the globe are calling the Palmer's household sharing their condolences.

"This community is in mourning," said County Commissioner Ken Olsen. Olsen works closely with Nick's father at the county.

Within two and a half hours after the Marines left their front door, people showed up.

"Word spread across the U.S., total strangers are calling us, Marine families called," she said. "From the East to West Coast, the word is out. And if there is one, there's 200 who have come to the door."

The phones were ringing off the hook, landline and cellular phones, the doorbell ringing all day.

One visitor stopped by early Tuesday morning, asked if there was anything he could do, but Palmer told him no.

"I don't know what you can do," she said. "I don't even know what to do. Nobody knows what to do or what to say ... neither do I."

Flowers and flags started to collect at the Palmer home. And an area near the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, which is across from the Palmer home, has ben set aside for people to hang yellow ribbings and offer their support.

Leadville resident Carol Hill said Monday that the coverage of this war reminded her of Vietnam.

"When you're watching the news on the television, all you see are numbers and body counts," Hill said. "It's just like Vietnam. And it's sad."

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicklas J. Palmer was killed in action on 12/16/06.


Timothyholly said...

I read about his loss through a jounalist report & wanted to know more about this heroic young man, take a moment to feel the sacrifice your family has made to the country we love so much & wish to see be better than it is...Knowing more about him is heartbreaking but, I think every man & women in this country could stand to reflect & shed some tears for the fallen & consider their sacrifice..words do not tell such things... Tim Holly a father of a 4 yr old son

TheGirlNextDoor said...

Nick served with my son Gator. They were very close friends. His death still is something my son thinks about. He was with him at that moment. They laughed together, worked together, played together and fought together.

I will always have the up most respect for you both. As our sons walked off the bus to screaming family members and loved ones, you stood with grace, thanking those boys for serving with your son. I was one of the many that hugged you, cried with you and so desperately could not find the words to console you.

I think about Nick often. Each time I see my flag blowing in the wind, a magnet on a car and especially when I see a "service flag" hanging in the window of a home.

May God bless you all with the knowledge that your son made a difference in my son's life. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I met Brad and Rochelle this last week. I can only imagine what a great American Nick was by there patriotism.

CW5 Ivan Murdock

Anonymous said...

This is a great American from a great family. I met Brad and Rochelle this week in Leadville.

CW5 Ivan Murdock

Anthony Neubauer said...

Nick was a good Marine, amazing man to talk to, great friend, and one of the quickest learners I ever got the chance to mentor. I was with Nick the day this all happened and I still cry knowing there was nothing more I could do besides get behind the gun he was taken from and search for the coward who took my battle buddy. I still have nightmares, and still question why I wasn't behind the gun that day. I have been scared to contact his family personally, because I feel regret for things not going different Dec. 16th., also in fear that I will be blamed by his family. To the Palmers, I feel pain everyday, none like yours, but Nick is one of my brothers. I still see his face every night I get my 2 hours of sleep. I am sorry for your loss, and I just wanted to let you know, Nick is my hero and I'm sure he has watched over me on my 3 other deployments, just because I know he was so caring and dedicated. He is my guardian angel, hero, and brother.

An Original Hitt said...

Dear Rachel & Brad,
My husband and I went to the Miners Hall of Fame Museum yesterday. Leaving, we were simply enjoying the beautiful Leadville view. Ironically we saw in your sidewalk out front, something that made us curious- the cast iron door. Visiting from Florida, something we had never seen before. Pondering what it was, I walked over to see. We discussed thinking it must be for coal or the like? Embarrassed by our niavity only started there.

Then we looked up, the post out front with flags. What is this we wondered more. Then we finally looked in your window. Your gold star, is the very first gold star we had ever seen. It took my breath away when finally realizing what we were seeing, after our curious carefree stroll over from the museum.

As an artist, I took a picture, moved by more than the 10000 foot altitude taking my breath away. I bowed. Not knowing anything more than the sacrifice represented here...
Unprepared for what was in front of me.

I did want to know more, it woke me from my sleep at 4 this morning. I simply looked up Gold Star family in Leadville. Here you are and the hero a of your son, are shared in multiple places. There are no words to console. Thank you. Your precious 19 year old son, gone all to soon, and I can't imagine your heart ache. I, A mother of three, and all of my children in the age group of your Nicklas. My daughter, oldest, is at her bachelorette weekend, this weekend. My youngest son is also named 'Nick'. He turns 26 on Dec 7th. Pearl Harbor Day.

Your personal life long sacrifice hit home, I simply want to say God bless you and thank you. I am a thankful American that will never forget your priceless giving to us all. God bless America. Freedom isn't free. God bless you. God bless Nicklas --Godspeed.

Karen Ann