The phrase “Not all heroes wear capes” comes to mind when speaking about Trooper Wade Palen. On May 27, 2022, the Attorney General of Montana, Austin Knudsen, shook hands with the young trooper as he handed him the award for his heroic action. It just shows that you never know how your day is going to fare when you go to work as a law enforcement officer.
At around 1709, on January 11, 2022, two fine and upstanding citizens decided to go on a little crime spree. Their first leg on that journey led them to the South Gate Mall parking lot. The two men, later identified as Michael McVey and Justin Pando, stole a green Chevrolet Silverado. Inside the truck’s cab were the owner’s purse and a handgun.
Five minutes later, at around 1714, they continued their adventure and found themselves at a nearby gas station, “The Town Pump .”Once inside, the two thieves decided to liberate about $100 worth of cigarettes.
Now all jacked up on nicotine and still hungry for more loot, the men decided to up the ante. A little less than an hour after they secured their bounty of stolen cigarettes, the two assailants turned their attention to someone in an alley. They held the victim up at gunpoint and took a few personal items before fleeing. The robbed individual was able to give a vehicle description and suspect description.
The Missoula Police Department and Missoula County Sheriff’s Office started to comb the area to locate the two turds in the stolen green pickup. The MCSO spotted the dynamic duo in the parking lot of another Town Pump gas station in Bonner. A town just outside of the city of Missoula. The two criminals decided to lead the police on a chase, to cap off their eventful evening.
The Missoula Police Department, the MCSO, and the Montana Highway Patrol assisted with the pursuit. Wade Palen, a Montana Highway Patrolman, was among them. Fortunately, as the congo line of law enforcement following the two would-be bandits made their way near the Turah Exit on I-90, the suspect vehicle was disabled.
While the suspects were apprehended as they dismounted their truck, an MPD K9 unit was left stranded on the railroad tracks shortly after a southbound train was bearing down on the unit, with the K9 officer still inside.
Without hesitation and knowing he would, at a minimum, be potentially bit and scratched by the K9, Trooper Palen lept into action. He made his way to the MPD K9 Unit and opened the door. He removed the dog from the vehicle, and approximately 14 seconds later, the train struck the car, destroying it on impact. There is no doubt that Trooper Palen saved the life of the K9. He put his life on the line to save a fellow officer.
Trooper Wade Palen of the Montana Highway Patrol, we salute you. Well done!