On anniversary of local soldier's death, relatives share thoughts

NORTH CREEK - As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to grind forward, one family is reflecting on the cost of the conflicts in the Middle East. One-year ago this week, former North Creek and Wevertown resident Sgt. Mark Palmateer, 38, was killed in action. He died from wounds sustained after his convoy encountered improvised explosive devices, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades from dissidents in Afghanistan.

In this attack, two of Palmateer's fellow Army reservists were also killed.

"I think about my dad and the war every day," Palmateer's daughter Stephanie said this week. "His death has changed how I look at things like our flag, service and the war."

According to Stephanie Palmateer, her father's character was the focus of numerous letters she received from his squad-mates following his death.

Unlike many Americans - who are able to remove themselves from the conflicts abroad - the death of her father acts as an ever-present reminder of the cost of war.

"I think about what is going on over there every day," she said. "I am not sure people pay much attention until someone close to home dies."

Palmateer's ex-wife - Kim Smith - took time to reflect on the life and death of her daughter's father.

"When Mark was over there his letters asked for things for the Afghan children," she said. "He loved the kids and felt so bad for them."

But the cost of the wars are much more than dollar figures for a family who has lost so much.

"Even though he was over there you just think he'll come home like so many others do, but they all don't," Smith said. "When will this war end - how many more have to die?"

Yet, Stephanie remains inspired by her father's sacrifice.

"There has to be an appreciation for someone who makes such a sacrifice," she said. "Especially the Afghans appreciate it - most of them agree with our presence."

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