View Full Version : Manteca hero honored by family, community

05-17-07, 04:51 AM
Manteca hero honored by family, community
By Paul Burgarino, Staff Writer
Inside Bay Area
Article Last Updated:05/16/2007 04:19:40 PM PDT

MANTECA — When Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II sat down to write why he wanted to re-enlist in the Marines at the age of 34, he said that "it was home."

Twelve days after the Marine was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive device while serving his country, the Marine was laid to rest in the place he called home for most of his childhood.

About 450 family members, uniformed officers and grateful members of the community Wednesday showed their respect during a somber funeral service, motorcade procession and burial for the first soldier from Manteca killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"There are so many here who feel a connection and are deeply grateful for the sacrifice made," said the Rev. Tim Voogd of Lighthouse Community Church in Lathrop during the funeral at First Assembly of God Church. "Sorrow is such that we are designed to share it together."

Among the speakers who eulogized Palmer were his younger brother Jason Palmer, 33, and childhood family friend David Jones.

"He always gave 100 percent at everything, at being a brother, being a son, and I'm sure at being a father," said an almost inaudible Palmer as he fought back tears.

"He carried his own load, the load the carried the day he died, just so we can stand here free in this country. One of the first things I remember — and I knew then that he would be in the military — on my first day of school, he made sure I knew the Pledge of Allegiance."

®MDRV¯Palmer then invited the crowd to stand and recite the pledge.

Jones talked about how the Palmer family took him in "without reservation" as a teenager when his parents were going through a divorce.

"Charles was a man who was unselfish and always put others ahead of himself," Jones said. "He knew exactly where he was going and accepted the responsibility knowing the dangers. He fought for his free country and what it stands for. That's why Charles Palmer was a hero."

Jones met Palmer in seventh grade, when the two went to Lincoln Elementary school. They participated in a variety of sports at Manteca High School and both graduated in 1989. The men ®MDRV¯stayed in touch after Palmer moved to the east coast following his first tour of duty in the Marines from 1992 to 1996.

The "camaraderie, loyalty and comfort level" of the Marines drove Palmer, he wrote in his application letter. He said he never found a job equal to his Marines experience and the "sense of accomplishment" serving gave him.

Palmer served in the military a total of nine years.

"My husband was not a man of words, but a man of action," said Tanya Palmer, recalling the day when Palmer sat at the kitchen table stating why he wanted to re-enlist for active duty at age 34.

Fittingly, a video slideshow of Palmer evoked the most tears.

To the tune of "Some Gave All," by Billy Ray Cyrus, snapshots of different parts of Palmer's life were displayed, including his childhood, first stint in the military and adult years with his children.

The presentation ended with a video clip of his casket being transported from Stockton to Manteca last week as thousands lined the streets of Manteca to pay their respects.

Once again, people lined the streets of Manteca as Palmer was taken to Burwood Cemetery in Escalon to be laid to rest. About 2,500 American flags lined the procession route, as police and military personnel escorted the Marine's casket.

During his tour of duty in Iraq, Palmer earned a variety of honors, including the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct, Selected Marine Corps Medal, National Defense Service Medal with a Bronze Star, Iraqi Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorist Medal.

Contact Paul Burgarino at (209) 832-6143 or pburgarino@trivalleyherald.com.