Seaford's Cory Palmer dies in service to his country

By Lynn R. Parks and Ronald MacArthur

Cory Palmer's birthday was yesterday. The 2002 Seaford High School graduate would have been 22. But there was no celebration. Palmer, the son of Charles and Danna Palmer of Seaford, died this weekend after being wounded May 1 in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Palmer's uncle, Ralph Palmer, also of Seaford, said on Monday that one Marine was killed outright in the explosion and that Cory was badly burned. He added that Charles and Danna Palmer were in Texas, where they flew to meet their son after learning that he had been injured. Cory died while being flown from Germany, where he was taken after the incident, to a burn treatment facility in San Antonio. Cory joined the Marine Corps in February 2003, after attending West Virginia University. He was a corporal, stationed at Camp LeJeune, N.C. He had been in Iraq for five weeks, on his second tour there as a member of the 2nd Recon Battalion, A Company, 1st Platoon. He is the second Seaford High School graduate to be killed in Iraq. Ryan Long, who graduated in 1999, was killed April 3, 2003, when a car at a checkpoint where Long was a guard exploded. Since the start of the war in Iraq, more than 2,420 soldiers and Marines have been killed. More than 17,600 soldiers and Marines have been wounded. Montine Willin of Seaford is Danna Palmer's sister and Cory's aunt. She described her nephew as a "lively, fun and life-loving young man." "Anything Cory did, he did whole-heartedly," added his grandmother, Kristina Swain, also of Seaford. Willin said that everyone in the family is experiencing "deep grief." "The loss is too great to bear," she added. "There was so much more that everybody had planned with Cory." Palmer and Michael Bleile were classmates and played on the Seaford High soccer team. Bleile, who is a student at Salisbury University, Salisbury, Md., said that he saw Palmer about two years ago, after Palmer had completed his basic training. "He told me all about being in boot camp, and I was pretty much amazed at what they put you through," Bleile said. "He told me that he wanted to be a guard at Camp David," the presidential retreat west of Washington, D.C. Bleile said that Palmer, who played midfield, had to work hard to make the soccer team in his senior year. "He worked his tail off, running and everything else," he said. But that work paid off, Bleile added: "I remember when he scored the game-winning goal against IR, and we finished the game 2-1. He loved every second of it, and we all loved it because of him. It couldn't have happened to a better person at the time. We had a saying, that good things happen to good people, and that was a good thing that happened to him."

Bleile said that Palmer was changed after he went through his basic training. "There was a major difference in him after he was in the Marines," he said. "The military made him a man. You could tell that. If he had gotten out of the service, there is no doubt that he would have done something very meaningful with the rest of his life. " "He was a great kid, and the Marines gave him the mechanism to become that wonderful man that he became," added Willin. Tim Lee, a Seaford High School teacher and soccer coach, remembers Palmer as a free spirit. Lee said that he spent time talking with Palmer this past November during the annual alumni soccer game. "I was impressed with his maturity," he said. "I guess that came from being older and serving in a war zone. He had turned into a man. There is no doubt that he was proud of what he was doing. "He was very much into the military mindset and he knew that this was the right thing for him to be doing. He had found his niche in life. It's sad that it has to come to an end like this," he added. Lee remembers Palmer as a unique student. "When he was in school, he was a handful, but a likable handful. There was something about him that made you like him. During his senior year, he matured somewhat and ended up playing on the varsity team. "My memory of Cory as a high school senior was that of a prankster," the coach said. "It was great to see how he had turned out. He was one of our success stories." The news of a loss of a young person is becoming too frequent in Lee's life. Over the past three to four years, five young people from Seaford whom he has coached have passed away – three in accidents and two in the military. "If this is a reflection on the U.S. how many young people die, it's very sad. Events like this bring it home to all of us," Lee said. In addition to his parents, Palmer is survived by two brothers, Thad and Kyle, both of Seaford, his paternal grandparents, Byron and Phyllis Palmer, and his maternal grandmother, Kristina Swain. As of press time, information about his funeral service was unavailable.

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