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Ground breaking Saturday for park honoring Palmer

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POSTED May 23, 2014 2:03 a.m.

By DENNIS WYATT

The Bulletin

Fallen Marine Corporal Charles O. Palmer II’s name will grace Manteca’s next neighborhood park.

Raymus Homes is breaking ground on the park on Saturday, May 24, at 10 a.m. as part of Manteca’s Not Forgotten Memorial Day Weekend commemoration.

The park is in the new Oleander Estates neighborhood Raymus Homes is building southwest of Union Road and Woodard Avenue.

Siblings Bob and Toni Raymus when they announced the plan to name the park after Palmer several years ago said they wanted to help make sure people never forget the sacrifice the Marine made on their behalf.

Attending the groundbreaking will be Marine Lance Corporal Ronnie Porta who spent more than 4½ years in a burn unit in San Antonio, Texas.

Porta sustained burns over 90 percent of his body in the May 5, 2007 explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED) during a combat mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad that claimed the life of fellow Marine Cpl. Charles O. Palmer. The same explosion also killed Master Sgt. Kenneth Mack who was within six weeks of going home and ending a 20-year-plus career as a Marine. Porta was the driver.

Other Marines that were there that day said the fire caused by the IED was so intense that they could not get closer than 20 feet of the Humvee.  Even after using every fire suppressant they had, it was of no value.  However, from the flames Porta emerged.  Porta was flown to San Antonio to be admitted to the burn center where he ended up spending 54 consecutive months fighting for his life.

He endured more than 130 surgeries.

Palmer was the first Manteca soldier to fall in the Global War on Terror.

Palmer, 36, wasn’t even assigned duty to go out as a gunner on that fateful day. Palmer volunteered to go instead. His fellow Marines said Palmer realized that someone who was assigned to go in front instead of at the back was due to become a father and leave Iraq soon. That’s why he insisted on trading places. After all, the corporal reasoned, his fellow Marine was about to become a father and shouldn’t take as many chances.

Palmer was a 1989 Manteca High graduate.

He had donned school colors proudly as a football player, band member, wrestler, and as part of the track team.

Classmates remember Palmer as a guy that everyone liked who had an infectious sense of humor, and who was good at whatever he tackled.

None of them were surprised when he enlisted in the Marines after graduation. and served from 1992 to 1996. And they all thought it was within Palmer’s character given his sense of honor and his desire “to do the right thing” that prompted him to re-enlist after a 12-year hiatus from active duty and to fight in Iraq as a combat Marine.

The plaza near the entrance to the Big League Dreams sports complex is also dedicated in Palmer’s honor.

His parents — Charles and Teri Palmer —launched an effort shortly after their son’s death to send care packages routinely to Marines serving in harm’s way. That effort with the community’s help continues today.

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