On a blustery afternoon in western Montana, the pent up emotions of thousands of people poured out joyfully as critically wounded Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer arrived home to the Missoula International Airport.

Surrounded by a phalanx of law enforcement, fire and emergency vehicles with lights flashing, Palmer and his wife, Lindsey, were escorted through Missoula on their way to their home in Stevensville.

One of the Missoula Police officials said that a local business had distributed small American flags to those on the route, and there were several giant American flags displayed as well.

Before Palmer arrived, KGVO spoke with Palmer’s District Supervisor, Captain Jim Kitchen.

“He’s doing great compared to the way he was,” said Kitchin, who spent many days by Palmer’s bedside at the University Of Utah Health Hospital. “He’s doing fantastic, and he’s making a lot of positive strides. We appreciate the work he’s doing. He’s a tough trooper, and he’s going to make it through this.”

Also at the airport to greet Palmer was Missoula County Sheriff’s Office captain Anthony Rio who recounted the night that Palmer was shot three times in the head and neck near Evaro.

“We were told that Wade wasn’t going to make it and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” said Captain Rio. “Then guys from all walks and beliefs stopped and prayed for him, and it wasn’t an hour later that they said he made such a dramatic turnaround that they were now taking him to Salt Lake City. I give credit where credit is due and glory to God that, wow, what an amazing thing has happened.”

Following the motorcade, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox hosted a press conference at the Montana Highway Patrol headquarters. MHP Commander Tom Butler commented on Palmer’s wounds.

“A little over nine weeks ago I was standing out there on the tarmac of the Missoula airport, and it was a sad day,” said Butler. “I really had doubts about what the outcome would be at that time, and I can’t tell you today how heartwarming it was for me to see him get off that plane today and come home. There’s been a hole in our agency since he’s been gone and I am very, very glad that he is back home.”

Attorney General Fox became emotional when describing Trooper Palmer’s reaction to the news that he would be flying home.

“When we walked in that hospital room,” Fox began, overcome with emotion. “Wade was smiling ear to ear. He knew he was going to be reunited with his girls, that he was going to be home, that he was going to see his trooper colleagues and his friends and see familiar places and faces and while he couldn’t communicate with speech, his smile and his upbeat attitude swelled my heart and I’m sure everyone else’s. He smiled from the hospital to the airport, in the airplane all the way home, and I’m sure he’s still smiling now at home.”

Palmer will be treated at home for his wounds, and MHP officials are asking that his privacy and the privacy of his family be respected.

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