Flags Fly for Fallen Marine in Leadville Today
Residents and visitors will see the flags out on Leadville’s Harrison Avenue today and pause to think: Why? Why does Leadville display its flags on December 16?
If you’ve lived in Leadville for any length of time, the name Nicklas J. Palmer will answer that question. For it was on this date, in 2006, that 19-year-old Marine Lance Crpl Nick Palmer from Leadville was killed in the line of duty in Fallujah, Iraq. Since that horrific day when the news of Nick’s death reached home, there have been countless tributes to this young man’s courage and valor. In addition to the annual flag display every December 16 in Leadville, there’s another tribute that hundreds of motorists drive past or on every day: Fallen Heroes Highway.
In 2010, the stretch of Colorado Highway 91 between Leadville and Copper Mountain, connecting Lake and Summit Counties was renamed the Fallen Heroes Highway, with the passage of Resolution 10-040. An effort driven by Nick’s parents, Rachele and Brad Palmer of Leadville, the highway’s re-dedication was supported by then State Representative Christine Scanlan and State Senator Mark Scheffel who helped secure the road’s dedication.
There are now two signs that commemorate the roadway’s re-naming, the first sits near the juncture of Highways 91 and 24, north of Leadville, and the second is installed off Highway 91 just south of the Copper Mountain parking lots. Along with the signs, a plaque is also installed under each one, listing the names of additional fallen heroes, including military and first responders
During the October 2016 ceremony, a second name was engraved on the plaque, honoring Pilot Patrick Mahany who died in July 2015. Readers may recall the Summit County emergency responder whose Flight for Life helicopter crashed into the parking lot of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco shortly after take-off. Mahany was a Vietnam veteran who first started flying helicopters shortly after he joined the military in 1970.
For these families the loss of a loved one, especially during this time of year, can be painful. So as you notice the flags waving in honor every December 16 or make note of the Fallen Heroes Highway as you make the daily drive to work or ski, take pause. Offer up a prayer for peace, and for the safe keeping of all first responders who sacrifice a lot so that communities and the people who live there can stay safe and protected.
For each and every fallen hero, Thank You for your service and sacrifice for all who live in Leadville Today! RIP Nick, you are missed!