Trooper Wade Palmer receives medical retirement
From left, Montana Highway Patrol Col. Tom Butler, Trooper Wade Palmer and Attorney General Tim Fox pose for a photo during a ceremony Monday in Helena, where Palmer was awarded the Patrol’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor. (Courtesy photo)
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer of Missoula, who was critically injured in the line of duty in March 2019, retired Monday after receiving a medical retirement from the agency.
Palmer, accompanied by his wife and children, received a final send-off from friends and coworkers at Patrol headquarters in Helena. The Patrol presented Palmer with its highest honor, the Medal of Valor, as well as a retirement award and a colonel’s coin. Palmer served with the Patrol for eight years.
“Today is bittersweet,” said Col. Tom Butler “On the one hand, we’re incredibly thrilled and grateful to have Wade here and are amazed at his progress. On the other hand, no one wants to see a career cut short due to injury,” he added.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox was on hand for the send-off, noting “Wade’s road to recovery has been a remarkable lesson in faith and perseverance for all Montanans.
“The safety and blessings we enjoy today are made possible by the courage and sacrifice of first responders like Wade. On behalf of the Montana Department of Justice, we wish the Palmer family the very best as they focus on continued healing during this next chapter of their lives,” Fox added.
In his retirement, Trooper Palmer plans to continue to focus his energy on his rehabilitation and spending time with his family. He continues to see progress in his recovery efforts, though more work remains due to the severity of his injuries.
He and his family extended their gratitude to everyone who supported them throughout this journey, and asked for continued privacy as they move forward in healing and adjusting to their new reality.
On March 15, 2019, Palmer was shot in the neck, face and head after locating the suspect involved in an earlier shooting that injured two and killed one in Missoula. He was transported to Saint Patrick Hospital in critical condition and eventually flown to Salt Lake City to receive Level I trauma care. He returned home to Missoula on May 22, 2019, where he continued to receive outpatient treatment.
On June 26, 2020, Jonathan Bertsch pleaded guilty to the shootings. He will be sentenced in August.