Lt. Colonel (Retired) Carl Oscar Palmberg, 91

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Carl Oscar Palmberg passed away peacefully Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, at his home, snuggled next to his wife of 62 years, when he received the ultimate promotion to his eternal home. He was 91 years old.

Visitation for Carl will be from 4-6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, at Central Church, 3102 W. Ralph Rogers Road in Sioux Falls. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, also at Central Church. Burial, with Full Military Honors, will follow at Grandview Covenant Cemetery, rural Larchwood, Iowa.

Carl was born at home before the arrival of the doctor on a farm near Aurora, Neb., on 23 September 1932 to Oscar Wilhelm Theodore Palmberg and Ethel Victoria (Swanson) Palmberg. He grew up in rural Nebraska until his family, desperate for more favorable farming conditions, moved to the Larchwood area when Carl was 5 years old. The family spent the winter months of the move living with Carl’s maternal grandparents and uncles. He attended a small country school near Larchwood. He sat out his senior year to work as a farm hand for beloved neighbors, Virgil and Alice Bennet. Saving his wages, he was able to pay his tuition to attend Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Minn., where he made lifelong friends and graduated from high school in 1951. He then spent one year building houses in Chicago with his Uncle Henry.

Carl leaves behind a legacy of service, hard work, family, love, and most importantly, faith. In 1952, he enlisted in the Air Force, but when his father died during Carl’s pilot training, he obtained a hardship discharge to operate the family farm and support his mother and younger siblings. During this time, Carl joined the South Dakota Army National Guard and flew an L-19 spotter aircraft which he hanged on the family farm and used as transportation as he dated June Johnson.

After a six-month whirlwind romance involving weekly courting flights in the L-19, June and Carl were married on June 17, 1961. Shortly after, Lt. Col. Palmberg was called to Army active duty in Mineral Wells, Texas, where he was trained to fly helicopters. Having no married housing available there, Carl purchased a little, purple mobile home so his bride could be with him. They spent over two years in full-time military service in Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Sill, Okla., before making their home back on the farm near Larchwood. When a spot became available, he joined the South Dakota Air National Guard.     

Throughout his career in the Air Guard, Lt. Col. Palmberg spent many years flying the F-102 and F-100 jets and the C-131 personnel transport aircraft until his mandatory retirement from the Air Force at age 50. He returned to the South Dakota Army National Guard, where he flew Huey helicopters and Cessna 310s until his retirement in 1992 at the age of 60. Lt. Col. Palmberg was a graduate of the Army Artillery Officers Career Course, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College. Honors include the National Defense Service Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Combat Readiness Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the South Dakota Desert Storm Ribbon, the South Dakota Service Ribbon with 3 oak leaf clusters, and the Master Army Aviator. With the support of his family and gracious neighbors, Lt. Col. Palmberg was able to spend over 39 years in military service. 

Carl remarked that he enjoyed flying but farming was his first love. He was able to continue farming into his 80’s. As a child helping on his family’s farm, Carl used horse-drawn implements. By the end of his farming career, his tractors had GPS guidance. He pioneered soil conservation, constructed terraces to decrease erosion, and earned conservation awards. He enjoyed livestock and his last conversation with his son, Karl, included asking about the cows. 

Amidst farming and piloting, he served the community for many terms on the West Lyon School Board and Lyon County Zoning Board. He took an interest in his kids’ and grandkids’ activities and enjoyed woodworking, playing Rook, and music that was “nice to listen to”. He patiently repaired machinery destroyed by his kids as they gained farming experience and was quick to crack a joke at no one’s expense, filling the room with laughter. Carl’s kind yet resolute spirit was evident to family, friends, and community members. He never wavered from his spoken order of priorities: God, country, family, job, others, self. His unconditional love for his family was absolute.

After growing up attending Grandview Covenant Church, at age 16, Carl came forward at a tent meeting putting his faith in Christ alone for salvation. He steadfastly discipled his family and consistently attended Central Baptist Church from the 1950’s onward serving for several years as a deacon. Above all and in each season of his life, Carl’s deep faith in God and close personal relationship with Jesus was demonstrated in his character full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

As his vitality gradually slipped away, Carl was lovingly cared for by his steadfastly devoted wife, his dedicated children, and other caregivers. Together, they had the privilege of enabling him to remain in his comfortable, familiar home on the farm until ushered into the arms of Jesus. We will always remember his voice as he prayed deeply, in a sincere tone that went up to God and finished in a reverent whisper. We thank our gracious God for the blessed life of Carl Oscar Palmberg. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Carl is survived by his wife, June (Johnson) Palmberg; daughters, Dawn (Joel) Grim, Alexandria, Va., Becky (Glen) Lavy, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Elaine (Tim) Rustand, Brandon; son, Karl (Carissa) Palmberg, Larchwood; 14 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter; his brother, Harold (Karel) Palmberg, Winston-Salem, N.C.; and sister, Vanjie Bratt, Minneapolis, Minn.

Carl was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Carola Bratt; and brothers, Jon, Paul, and Dale Palmberg.

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