Green Beret will not be forgotten, his family told - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:30 am / Updated at 9:28 am
Sgt. Jason Palmerton
Green Beret will not be forgotten, his family told

AUBURN, Neb. — Two Green Berets hugged members of Sgt. Jason Palmerton's family here Saturday and promised they wouldn't forget the man or his loved ones.

“You're still in our hearts, filling us with the strength to carry on,” Capt. Will Wright said.

Palmerton, 25, of Auburn was shot and killed by an insurgent while on patrol eight years ago with his Green Beret detachment in Afghanistan.

Wright and Chief Warrant Officer II Johnny Glenn returned from Afghanistan this spring and visited Auburn on Saturday. They gave the Palmerton family a framed tribute to the sergeant during a ceremony at Legion Memorial Park. The two Green Berets, who didn't know Palmerton but served later in the same small detachment, told the family they have named an eastern Afghanistan fire base, or outpost, “Camp Palmerton.”

They knew, Wright said, why Palmerton was a Green Beret: He longed to protect the American way of life and help people in faraway lands who were born not into the privilege Americans take for granted, but in spots where repression and brutality rule.

“Nothing can replace him,” Wright said. “Johnny and I will forever live in your debt.”

The wind blew through the town of 3,400, tempering the heat of the early summer afternoon. The 30-minute ceremony included the playing of Taps and “Ballad of the Green Berets,” and the singing of the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful.”

Auburn community members gave Glenn and Wright a framed collection of photos of the Nemaha County Veterans Memorial, which stood just behind the ceremony.

The memorial is a plaza dedicated two years ago that includes black granite walls containing 1,200 veterans' names and murals of soldiers, battles, planes, tanks, battleships and famous war scenes, such as the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. Palmerton's name is etched on one wall.

Jason Palmerton's grandfather, 80-year-old Tom Palmerton, stood near the end of the ceremony to make an announcement. The sculptor from Brownville, Neb., said he intended to raise funds and create a life-sized statue of his grandson in his military uniform. Asked later when he made this decision, the artist said: “Right here today. I'll have it in about a year.”

Amanda Falvey, Jason's sister, said before the ceremony that her brother wanted to live with inspiration rather than regret. He liked to say that you shouldn't “live your life with your eyes closed,” Falvey said.

Falvey, now married and living in Denver, said her brother had a good sense of humor and tried to be a stand-up comic for a while. She and her brother lived together in an apartment in Lincoln about a dozen years ago. He was a generous guy and astonished her by giving a neighbor $300 to pay the fellow's rent.

Her brother was working as a maintenance man in a meat processing plant at the time and had just broken up with a girlfriend. It was a tough time for him. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks also moved him. One day in 2002 she came home to their apartment and heard on the telephone answering machine a recruiter giving Jason some instructions. Her brother had signed up to join the Army.

“And I was like, 'What?'” she said.

“He said, 'Don't freak out.'”

He wanted to move on with his life, do good things. And he did like the Army, Falvey said. He loved the camaraderie and challenge. He seemed quite happy and had met a veterinary student while he was based at Fort Bragg, N.C. She became a serious girlfriend.

It's just a shame, Falvey said, that his adventure ended after only 25 years.

Kandi Rohrs, a teacher in Auburn schools, recalled Jason Palmerton as a reliable, respectful boy. She taught him in eighth grade, and he was quiet, smart and could be funny, but he didn't push it to obnoxiousness, Rohrs said.

Now, almost every year on Memorial Day week, Rohrs takes a group of Auburn students to Washington, D.C. They visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Holocaust Museum and the U.S. Capitol, and they attend a play.

They go to Arlington National Cemetery and visit the Tomb of the Unknowns and the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy's gravesite. They watch the Changing of the Guard. But the students love most of all to visit Palmerton's grave at that cemetery, Rohrs said. They place a wreath on it that says, “Auburn High School.”

It connects them to the vast burial ground, she said, and makes it personal for them. They know one of their own rests in that profoundly sad, beautiful place.

Contact the writer: Rick Ruggles

rick.ruggles@owh.com    |   402-444-1123    |  

Rick covers health and medicine. He also occasionally covers cops, breaking news and events around town.

Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
Explosion near 29th, Woolworth damages vehicles
Omaha police arrest man, 19, accused in March shooting
Earth gets its day in the sun at Elmwood Park
Beau McCoy strikes Obama doll in TV ad; Democrats are not happy
Keystone XL pipeline backers blast 'political expediency' as foes hail ruling to delay decision
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »