Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Charles O. Palmer II dies 'while conducting combat operations'

MANTECA — A 1989 Manteca High School graduate was killed in Iraq over the weekend, the first fatality of the war from this city.

Marine Cpl. Charles Palmer II, 36, was killed when the Humvee in which he was riding was struck by an improvised explosive device Saturday afternoon, Marine Corps casualty officers said.

Palmer was serving as a gunner in the top turret of the vehicle that was conducting a combat operation in the Al Anbar province near the town of Khalidiyah.

He was a member of the 8th Communications Battalion and was part of a expeditionary force that had been assigned to that region.

Palmer had served in active duty from 1992 to 1996, and after his first time of duty remained on the East Coast.

He joined the reserves in 2001, but last year decided to re-enlist for full-time active duty.

He was deployed in February and scheduled to return home in September, said David Jones, a family friend.

Jones, a dispatcher for Manteca police, said he had known Palmer since the two went to Lincoln Elementary School.

"He was always there for me. He was a great guy," Jones said, adding that the two became as close as brothers when he lived with Palmers' family for a summer as a teenager.

Jones said Palmer was active in sports in high school — cross-country, track and wrestling — and played in the marching band.

After graduating, Palmer enlisted in the Marines and served until 1996. Jones said at the time, Palmer was glad to be out — settling into life in South Carolina.
However, just before his 35th birthday in March 2006, he decided either to become a police officer or go back into the Marines full-time.

"For some reason, he went back in," Jones said. "He always had a Marine mentality, and he decided to make it a career."

Stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., Palmer went back to boot camp in 2006 and was shipped to Iraq shortly thereafter.

He is the 15th member of the military from San Joaquin County killed in active duty in the war, including six from Tracy, six from Stockton and one each from Lathrop and Lodi.

He leaves behind a 15-year-old son and two stepchildren, whose ages were not immediately available.

Palmer earned the Global War on Terrorism Service Award and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, officials said.

Plans for his funeral are still pending, as family members spent most of Monday coping with the news and fielding phone calls.

Palmer's body is scheduled to be flown into Dover, Del., today, then will be flown into Stockton later this week and driven to Manteca in a motorcade for his funeral.

From the Argus