This Friday, Oct. 7 the public is cordially invited to the dedication and unveiling of the memorial plaques for the Fallen Heroes Highway, also known as Colorado Highway 91 between Leadville and Copper Mountain.
In 2010, this stretch of highway connecting Lake and Summit Counties was renamed the Fallen Heroes Highway, dedicated to LCPL Nicklas Palmer USMC with the passage of SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 10-040. An effort driven by Nick’s parents, Rachele and Brad Palmer of Leadville, the highway’s re-dedication was supported by then State Representative Christine Scanlan and State Senator Mark Scheffel who helped secure the road’s dedication. Part of the original plan was to include a plaque which would record the names of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their community and country.
For those readers who may not know, Nick Palmer graduated from Lake County High School in Leadville in 2005 where he played football. After graduation, Nick joined the United States Marine Corps. He was killed in action December 16, 2006 while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq. He was just 19 years old.
The second name now engraved on the plaque honors a Summit County emergency responder.
In July 2015, Pilot Patrick Mahany died not long after his Flight for Life helicopter crashed into the parking lot of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco shortly after take-off.
Mahany was a Vietnam veteran who first started flying helicopters shortly after he joined the military in 1970.
On Friday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. the families of Nick Palmer and Patrick Mahany, along with Lake and Summit officials, residents and local media will gather at the Fallen Heroes Highway sign on the Summit County side to commemorate the plaque as it gets put into place with the names of local heroes.
The plaques are “dedicated to Nicklas J. Palmer, and any Military, Peace Officer, Emergency Responder or Firefighter of Lake & Summit Counties who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Attendees for the unveiling service are asked to gather at the highway sign on southbound Highway 91 just past Copper Mountain before the highway road closure gate. Local officials and media will gather at 1 p.m. at the small turn-out where the blue sign for the Fallen Heroes Highway is currently posted.
The engraving of the highway signs in addition to the Lake County Veterans Memorial at Evergreen Cemetery in Leadville has been done by Snyder Grand Valley Memorials of Grand Junction, Colo.
Nick’s parents Brad and Rachele Palmer still live in Leadville. Brad is the director of Public Works for Lake County and Rachele works in the Treasurer’s office at the courthouse.
Nick’s brother Dustin also lives in Leadville with his family: wife, Jesse, daughters Kylie and Ariana, and his son and brother’s namesake Nicklas J. Palmer.