Friday, March 20, 2009

Joshua Palmer for USD Magazine

Marine 1st Lt., Joshua M. Palmer, 25, of Banning, California, lost his life due to injuries received from hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq on April 8, 2004. He graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor's degree in international relations.

This illustration was done for an "In Memoriam" section for USD Magazine.

I've been fortunate to develop a great relationship with the University of San Diego Magazine, and have been lucky enough to create many illustrations for them over the years, including several "In Memoriam" pieces.

For obvious reasons, when many days are Memorial Days for families around the world, this illustration of Mr. Palmer was an honor to do, and a tiny way in which I can pay respect to Joshua and those who serve our country.

I didn't know Joshua, but researching him later, I found him to be a remarkable young man.

He loved to read, was multi-lingual (English, Spanish, and Chinese), and was engaged to be married.

What follows below is an excerpt from his memorial service, and a reminder of the real stories of those we sometimes take for granted. The rest of his story may be read, here.

On April 8th, in the afternoon, Josh’s convoy began taking sniper fire as they entered Fallujah. Josh was a first lieutenant, and led a group of men. Some of the men in the convoy, from another lieutenant’s unit, were injured by the sniper fire. It was determined that someone needed to hunt down the snipers and kill them, before they killed any of the men in the convoy. Josh had been trained in sniper hunting, and volunteered. He led a small group of men into the area where the snipers were. They pinpointed the snipers’ location and ran to the building were the snipers were located. Josh didn’t hesitate, he just ran. When they got there, they began clearing rooms with grenades. When they got to the room where the snipers were, Josh insisted on being in front. Usually officers stay in the back, because their lives are considered more valuable. But Josh had always said that he would never send his men somewhere he wouldn’t go himself, and the test of a true leader was whether or not he led from the front. It was known that there was a very high chance that the person in front would be shot, as they were so close to the snipers, and the snipers were waiting for them. Josh still went in front. He probably knew that he was going to be shot, but he wouldn’t allow someone else to die when he could have prevented it. So he leaned forward and threw the grenade. As he did, he fell a little bit forward, and was shot many times all up his left side and into his neck. Immediately his men pulled him back, and killed the sniper who had shot Josh, the other two snipers were taken prisoner. They pulled Josh to a safe location, where he eventually bled to death.

My best to the Palmers, as well as Joshua's extended family and friends, as we near the 5-year anniversary of his passing.

Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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Laura said...

Hi, I'm the girlfriend that wrote that letter... my name is Laura. I'm so touched to see that you still remember him, after 5 years (almost 6 now). Josh and I had been engaged, but had called the wedding off shortly before he left for TBS, because we needed more time to work some things out. I didn't know that time was the one thing I was running out of. I'm grateful that you still remember him. I'm grateful that people outside of our little circle of his family and friends, still remember him. He is worth remembering.

Allan Burch said...

Hi Laura,

Thanks for your comment. Josh is still very active in the memories of his loved ones who have contacted me about this illustration.

Josh was certainly a remarkable individual. It was my honor to illustrate him and maybe help keep his memory alive for others to discover his tremendous character.

Thanks again for your note.

All the best,

Unknown said...

That's a very nice portrait. Great artwork, but what is best is that you drew a picture of a fallen hero. I knew Josh briefly... we were in the same platoon at OCS. Josh's rack was always close to mine because our last names put us near each other. I remember Josh only having one pair of boots and one day we had training in which we had to negotiate "The Ford" which was pretty much a river. We were all soaked with muddy water and had an inspection later that day. Josh asked to borrow a pair of my boots. I kept a pair for inspection and a pair for other activities. I gave him my leather pair and he spit shined those things to a mirror :) I still have those boots and the last person who shined them was Josh. RIP brother and thank you for your sacrifice.

C Neale
USCM OCS Alpha Co 1st Platoon "Alpha Male!"