CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Marines and sailors with Regional Command Southwest gathered together to honor Lt. Col. Benjamin “Chili” Palmer aboard Camp Leatherneck, May 25. Palmer, a native of Modesto, Calif., was killed while working with a mentoring team that provides support to 5th Brigade, Afghan National Civil Order Police, May 12. He was 43 years old.
During the ceremony, friends and colleagues of Palmer came forward to reflect on the type of Marine he was and how they will remember him.
Lt. Col. Michael J. Gann, the operations officer for Afghan National Security Forces Development, RC(SW), explained that he first met Palmer in June 2002 when they were both attending the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The night before his death, Gann walked into his office to find Palmer camped out his desk. The two talked for a while about a variety of topics.
“He knew the risks of what he was involved in,” Gann said. “You could tell he was generally excited about what he was doing. I told him to be safe.”
Maj. Mark D. Cousins, the operations officer for 5th Brig., ANCOP mentor team, worked with Palmer for the past nine months and remembers him as putting the mission and Marines first, above all else.
“He leaves behind a legacy of caring and professionalism,” Cousins said. “His love for Marines was evident when he chose to be here instead of retiring. He chose to deploy, but only after receiving the full support of his family.”
Palmer is survived by his wife and four children.