Adam Palmer: Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient

Published 8:39 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Many of us can still remember where we were when we first heard about the attack on the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Adam Palmer recalls sitting in English class at Landrum High School as he watched the towers collapse on the television screen. Shocked to see innocent people killed like that in his homeland, he knew that he would serve his nation in combat someday. After graduation, he enlisted in the army in 2003.

ìI completed my basic combat training and advanced individual training as a 13B field artillery cannon crew member at Fort Sill, Okla. During my first tour in Baqubah, Iraq, from February 2004 to 2005, I received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device for my service in the 1/6 FA 3rd Brigade 1st Infantry Division as a M2 Browning automatic machine gunner on the Emergency Resupply Team and Quick Reaction Force. On my second tour, in Nineveh Province/ Mosul, Iraq, I served with the1st Platoon A Battery 5/82 FA as the lead machine gunner on route clearance and combat patrols and participated in small kill team sniper operations as a dismounted machine gunner. Although I received two Army Commendation Medals for Combat Operations and was promoted to sergeant and team leader, the biggest highlight during that tour was when I met and fell in love with my future wife, Ellenie, over the computer.î

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ìWe married in 2008 when I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. I completed Warrior Leadership course on the Commandants List top 10 percent of class. Receiving the Army Achievement Medal, I was promoted to staff sergeant and squad leader and completed the Basic Non-Commissioned Officers training. Our daughter, Mya, was born one month before my third and final deployment to Maysan Province, Iraq, where I served as lead truck commander, and second squad leader until July 14, 2009, when I was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device.î

ìThe explosion broke both bones of my right arm, almost severing it completely. Among other injuries, it also broke my right femur above the knee and a large piece of shrapnel broke the tibia in my left leg, causing arterial bleeding. I went into shock as they worked on me in the evacuation vehicle and felt my life slipping away as the medic failed several times to find a vein to start an IV. I prayed for forgiveness for all of my sins and gave my life to Christ, telling God that I would always serve Him whether I lived or died.î

ìBefore I said, ëAmen,í my gunner, an ex drug addict, grabbed the needle from the medic and found a vein on the first try, in spite of the piece of shrapnel in his leg. I came out of shock and was at peace all the way to the next base. That was the best day of my life. The doctors at Forward Operating Base Garry Owen induced a coma and I woke up the next day, July 15, at the Baghdad emergency room in the Green Zone (that was also the date that I enlisted and the day my son, Ezra, was born five years later). I had approximately 17 surgical procedures all together in Baghdad, Germany, Walter Reed, and at Fort Bliss and still have hardware in my right arm and leg, but have recovered more than anyone ever thought I would.î

ìCombat can bring out the worst in a person, but that kind of pressure can also create diamonds. I learned to lead by example and that, as a leader, I was capable of achieving far more than I thought possible. I also learned that love is stronger than fear and that God is bigger than whatever I happen to be going through.î

Adam retired from service in May 2012. He received the Purple Heart, an award which was founded on his birthday, August 7, in 1782. Today, he lives for his friends and family. His advice to others who wish to serve in the military is to pray hard, train hard, and clean your weapon. He says itís really easy to get lost spiritually in combat, so itís important to stay close to God and He will protect you. That way, you can always be a hero.

If you are a veteran and would you like to share about your experience in the US military, please contact Robin Edgar at or call The Tryon Daily Bulletin at 828-859-9151.