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|WGIL Exclusive: R and R Leads to Reunion for Native Soldier
|A Knox County native stationed with an Army unit based in New York State is home on R and R from Afghanistan, and she decided to spend part of it back here.
Jessica Palmer went to schools in Knoxville and Williamsfield when here, but now is stationed in Fort Drum, New York with the 10th Mountain Division, First Brigade as a combat medic. She hosted a gathering for friends and family in Galesburg Friday afternoon.
Palmer tells WGIL she's already done a lot of things since on leave, from seeing the sights in New York City to seeing a New York Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden and then coming back home, but says there might be one thing that trumps all of that.
"I was really excited this leave because I found my biological baby brother," Palmer said. "He's in the Coast Guard, and he took leave to meet me here. It was just sheer excitement."
Palmer tells WGIL it was huge for her to learn her biological brother was in the Coast Guard.
"I felt so proud," Palmer said. "I don't have kids, and I'm proud of my nieces and nephews. But I felt almost like what I would imagine a parent would feel like about [their] kid. That's my little brother, and he's doing so well for himself. He's in the Coast Guard, and it's just...I'm really proud of him. I always wondered what type of life he was having, and hoped the best for him. I find out that he's doing a stellar job."
Palmer tells WGIL it was the first time in 20 years she had met her biological brother Daniel, and had tried multiple times to find the right person on Facebook before finally coming across him.
"I've looked up his name and messaged so many people that weren't him," Palmer said. "This last message I sent, I had no expectations of it being him."
Palmer says she and Daniel get along great and have a lot in common. The two of them, she says, surprised their biological sister.
Palmer will be on leave for another week before heading back to Afghanistan.
(Jessica Palmer is interviewed Friday by WGIL's Will Stevenson. WGIL News Story by Will Stevenson. Photos by Eric Hanson.)
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