GRAND FORKS — Members of the military carried retired Brigadier General Al Palmer's remains past the visitor's center named in his honor Tuesday, Nov. 23, as dozens came together to say one final goodbye to a man who dedicated himself to his community and country.
"Today is very surreal, General Al Palmer will be truly missed by the Grand Forks community and beyond," said board member Gary Shields.
While he is known to most as General Al Palmer, to his wife and two kids it wasn't about his military rank or what hat he was wearing in the community. To his only daughter he was just dad.
"To me he was the guy who took me on a bike ride every weekend to Dairy Queen," said his daughter Alison Palmer.
General Palmer's flying training programs are recognized and used worldwide. To his kids flying high had another meaning.
"He taught me it's more important to serve others and follow your heart," said Alison Palmer.
The former leader of the North Dakota National Guard said General Palmer leaves behind a legacy of leadership in everything he did.
"Al had vision, drive, motivation, insight, (and an) ability to motivate others," said retired Major General Michael Haugen.
With the 6-acre Veterans Memorial Park as the backdrop, General Palmer was recognized with full military honors. It is one of his proudest accomplishments, calling the $2 million dollar project long overdue, especially for those who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars who didn't get the welcome home ceremonies you see today.
"When someone walks up to you and says, 'This is their welcome home,'" Shields said. "General Palmer, mission accomplished."
While there were a lot of tears, there was one joke that had a lot of people chuckling. Everyone was wondering how many committees has General Palmer signed up for in heaven.
General Palmer was also very active with Northlands Rescue Mission, the homeless shelter in downtown Grand Forks.