The 301 Strong nonprofit organization held a benefit auction and dinner on Saturday evening at Neptune Aviation next to the Missoula County Airport.

Speaking at the event was Attorney General Tim Fox, who had just come from receiving his Master’s Degree at the University of Montana Commencement.

Fox spoke of the qualities exhibited by first responders like Trooper Wade Palmer.

“Heroism and sacrifice,” said Fox. “It’s one thing to talk about those ideals but it’s another thing to live them. It’s another thing to see them embodied in another person, to see the cost and the price the person and his or her family has to pay. Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer has them both.”

Fox recounted the winter day in 2014 when Trooper palmer and his cadet partner T.J. Templeton responded to a horrific multi-vehicle crash on icy I-90 in which a woman and her family were badly injured as cars and trucks hurtled by on the slick highway.

“He saved a woman whose life was just seconds and inches away from ending,” he said. “Because of his courage and training, a woman is alive.”

Fox then recounted the incident in March when Palmer was gravely wounded after he pursued a man who is charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

“What began as an ordinary work shift ended with a sudden attack that changed the course of Wade’s life,” he said. “I’m grateful to Almighty God that Wade is still with us, but the road ahead is long and uncertain. In my time as Montana’s Attorney General, few things have caused me more pain than seeing Wade cling to his life in a hospital bed in Utah. At the same time, it has brought me tremendous joy to see the groundswell of support for Wade and his family. The very fact that we are gathered here is yet another testimony to that groundswell.”

Fox described how difficult it was to see Palmer moved from St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula to The University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, until he saw the support from fellow law enforcement agencies in other parts of the country,

“Upon Wade’s arrival in Salt lake City, once again we were taken aback by the outpouring of support,” he said. “The law enforcement community in Utah, first responders, fire service, quickly stepped in to help Wade in every way they could.”

Fox then shared a personal story.

“I was enroute to Missoula when I found out that Wade was going to Salt Lake, and I couldn’t get a commercial flight, so I got my Highway Patrol Pilot to come and pick me up in Bozeman, which he dropped everything to do,” he said. “We flew to Utah and I heard that a Utah trooper would be picking me up, but what I didn’t realize was that it was the Colonel of the Utah Highway Patrol who picked me up and took me to the hospital. As we got closer to the hospital, I started to see patrol cars and fire trucks and EMS ambulances lined up, lights running and men and women standing as if at attention, being there for Wade and his family. In the hallways all the way up to his hospital room, the Utah first responders were treating Wade like he was one of their own, They were rallying to his side the same way they would for one of their own who has been wounded in the line of duty.”

Fox then introduced several members of Utah law enforcement who were in attendance to a huge round of applause.

Fox praised all those who have shown support for Trooper Palmer and those others who were wounded in the attack on the Ides of March, March 15.

“In a national climate that can sometimes be hostile to the law enforcement profession it is truly refreshing to see the silent majority step up to support a fallen officer,” he said. “In the history of our country and our world, solidarity so often rises out of tragedy,” he said. “We have seen a glimpse of that here. In my years as Attorney General, I cannot recall an incident in Montana that spurred so many people to come together with such enthusiasm around a common cause, a family and around each other.”

Fox ended his address by encouraging all in attendance to continue their support for Trooper Palmer and his family, all those who were wounded and for law enforcement and first responders.

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