Joshua Wheeler

Last updated
Joshua Wheeler
Joshua Wheeler portrait.jpg
Born(1975-11-22)22 November 1975
Roland, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died22 October 2015(2015-10-22) (aged 39)
Kirkuk Province, Iraq
Buried
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg United States of America
Service/branchFlag of the United States Army.svg  United States Army
Years of service1995–2015
Rank Army-USA-OR-08b.svg Master sergeant
Unit United States Army Special Operations Command DUI.png U.S. Army Special Operations Command 24 Infantry Regiment Badge.png Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars Global War on Terrorism
Awards Silver Star
Bronze Star (11, 4 with Valor)
Purple Heart

Joshua Lloyd Wheeler (22 November 1975 22 October 2015) was a United States Army soldier who was killed in Iraq during Operation Inherent Resolve. [2] [3] He was a Master Sergeant assigned to the elite Delta Force, and was the first American service member killed in action as a result of enemy fire while fighting ISIS militants. He was also the first American to be killed in action in Iraq since November 2011. [4] [5]

Contents

Wheeler was a highly decorated service member, having earned 11 Bronze Star Medals including four with Valor Devices. [6] He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and the Medal of Patriotism. [6] [7] [8]

Early life and education

Wheeler was born in Roland, Oklahoma. He graduated from Muldrow High School in Muldrow, Oklahoma in 1994. [4] [6] He was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Career

Wheeler enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1995 as an infantryman and completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. [6] [9] He was then stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington and assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment until 1997 when he was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. [6] Wheeler deployed three times in support of combat operations to Afghanistan and Iraq with the 75th Ranger Regiment. [5] In 2004 Wheeler was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and was assigned to the United States Army Special Operations Command's Delta Force in which he was a team leader deploying 11 times to Afghanistan and Iraq in support of combat operations. [5] [6]

Death

Wheeler was killed in the predawn hours of 22 October 2015 during Operation Inherent Resolve as a result of enemy small-arms fire sustained during a raid on an ISIS prison compound 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) North of the town of Hawija in Iraq's Kirkuk province. [2] [5] [10] He was one of around 30 U.S. special operations soldiers who fought alongside Kurdish Counter-terrorism unit peshmerga forces. The operation secured the release of approximately 70 hostages, including more than 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces, being held in the compound. [4] [9] [11] Wheeler was directing the Kurdish attack on the prison and joined the fighting when those who had breached the compound came under fire inside. [4] [7] Reports stated that Wheeler ran toward the sound of the gunfire and that his actions along with those of one of his teammates ensured the success of the operation and protected those Kurdish fighters who had breached the compound. [4] The Kurdistan Regional Government asked U.S. special operations forces to support an operation to free hostages that were being held inside the prison and were going to be executed. [11] Information had been obtained which stated the hostages faced imminent execution and it was confirmed that graves had already been prepared for the hostages outside of the compound. [12] [13] The Kurdish government stated after the raid that none of the 15 Kurdish fighters who were the object of the operation were found and that none of the hostages freed were Kurdish. [4] [14] Four Kurdish peshmerga soldiers were wounded during the operation. [11] Five ISIS militants were detained during the operation and approximately 20 were killed. [3] [11] On 11 September 2020, one of his teammates, then-SFC Thomas Payne, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day, [15] becoming the first living Delta Force recipient of the Medal of Honor and the first Medal of Honor recipient for Operation Inherent Resolve.

Personal life

Wheeler lived in North Carolina with his four sons and wife, Ashley, who had given birth in August 2015 to his fourth son. His three older sons were from a previous marriage. [4] Wheeler was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Patriotism by the Cherokee Nation in July 2016. [16]

Awards and decorations

At the time of his death Wheeler had been awarded the following awards and decorations, except for the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and the Medal of Patriotism, which were awarded posthumously.

Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Expert Infantry Badge.svg Expert Infantryman Badge
Ranger Tab.svg Ranger tab
USAFSeniorParatrooper.jpg Senior Parachutist Badge
US Military Master Free Fall Parachutist Badge.jpg Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Badge
US Army Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge-Generic.png Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle Component Bar
German Silver Para badge.jpg Silver German Parachutist Badge
U.S. Army Special Operations Command CSIB.png USASOC CSIB
75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia.svg 75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
ArmyOSB.svg 9 Overseas Service Bars
Service stripe.jpg 6 Service stripes
Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Bronze Star ribbon.svg "V" device, brass.svg Silver oakleaf-3d.svg Silver oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and two silver oak leaf clusters
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Defense Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal
Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg Valor device.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor Device and oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Silver oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Army Commendation Medal with six oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Joint Service Achievement Medal
Army Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Silver oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg Army Achievement Medal with seven oak leaf clusters
United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svg
Valorous Unit Award ribbon.svg
Valorous Unit Award with oak leaf cluster
US Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism ribbon.svg Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism
Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg Gcl-06.png Army Good Conduct Medal (6 awards)
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal ribbon.svg Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (device(s) unknown)
Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three campaign stars
Iraq Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Silver-service-star-3d.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Iraq Campaign Medal with six campaign stars
Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal with two campaign stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
NCO Professional Development Ribbon.svg Award numeral 3.svg Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon with bronze award numeral 3
Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon.svg Award numeral 2.svg Army Overseas Service Ribbon with award numeral 2
NATO Medal ISAF ribbon bar.svg NATO Medal for service with ISAF

See also

Related Research Articles

75th Ranger Regiment Elite light infantry regiment

The 75th Ranger Regiment, also known as Army Rangers, is an elite special operations force that is a combat deployable unit in the United States Army Special Operations Command. The regiment is headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia and is composed of a regimental headquarters company, a military intelligence battalion, a special troops battalion, and three Ranger battalions.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from 2013 to 2019

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, born Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, was an Iraqi terrorist and the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from 2014 until his death.

International military intervention against ISIL Military actions against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

In response to rapid territorial gains made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the first half of 2014, and its universally condemned executions, reported human rights abuses and the fear of further spillovers of the Syrian Civil War, many states began to intervene against it in both the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War. Later, there were also minor interventions by some states against ISIL-affiliated groups in Nigeria and Libya.

American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War

The American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War refers to the United States-led support of the Syrian rebels and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during the course of the Syrian Civil War, including Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the active military operation led by the United States, and involving the militaries of the United Kingdom, France, Jordan, Turkey, Canada, Australia, and others against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front since 2014. Since early 2017, the U.S. and its partners have also targeted the Syrian government and its allies via airstrikes and aircraft shoot-downs.

The 2014 rescue mission in Syria was an American led effort to locate and rescue hostages being held by ISIS forces. Plans to rescue the hostages were accelerated after the execution of journalist James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kayla Mueller by ISIS militants. A total of 14 hostages were held hostage by the IS at an undisclosed location. Though no soldiers were killed, the mission failed to locate and rescue the hostages.

American-led intervention in Iraq (2014–present)

An American-led intervention in Iraq started on 15 June 2014, when President Barack Obama ordered United States forces to be dispatched to the region, in response to offensives in Iraq conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). At the invitation of the Iraqi government, American troops went to assess Iraqi forces and the threat posed by ISIL.

Operation Inherent Resolve Military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is the U.S. military's operational name for the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, including both the campaign in Iraq and the campaign in Syria, with a closely-related campaign in Libya. Since 18 September 2018, the U.S. Army's III Armored Corps has been responsible for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF—OIR). The campaign is primarily waged by American air forces in support of local allies, most prominently the Iraqi security forces and Syrian Democratic Forces. Combat ground troops, mostly special forces and artillery, have also been deployed, especially in Iraq. 75-80% of the airstrikes have been conducted by the military of the United States, with the other 20-25% by the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Task force created to fight ISIL

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) is the Joint Task Force established by the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), set up by United States Army Central (ARCENT) to coordinate military efforts against ISIL (Da'esh). It is composed of military forces and personnel from over 30 countries. The stated aim of CJTF–OIR is to "degrade and destroy" ISIL. Its establishment by US Central Command was announced in December 2014, after it was set up to replace the ad hoc arrangements that had previously been established to coordinate operations following the rapid gains made by ISIL in Iraq in June. Formed in October 2014, its first "coalition integration conference" was held the first week of December 2014. Current operations are named Operation Inherent Resolve by the United States Department of Defense. Lieutenant General Robert "Pat" White is the current coalition commander.

Kurdistan Region Security Council

The Kurdistan Region Security Council or KRSC is a high-level national security council in Kurdistan Region.

Abu Sayyaf is the nom de guerre of a senior leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who was described as overseeing gas and oil operations. United States authorities identified Abu Sayyaf's real name as Fathi Ben Awn Ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi. Abu Sayyaf was killed on the night of May 15–16, 2015 while resisting capture during a United States Army Delta Force operation in eastern Syria.

Mosul offensive (2015)

The Mosul offensive (2015) was an offensive launched by Kurdish Peshmerga forces on 21 January 2015, with the objective of severing key ISIL supply routes to Mosul, Iraq, and to recapture neighboring areas around Mosul. The effort was supported by US-led coalition airstrikes. The Iraqi Army was widely expected to launch the planned operation to retake the actual city of Mosul in the Spring of 2015, but the offensive was postponed to October 2016, after Ramadi fell to ISIL in May 2015.

Nasrin As'ad Ibrahim, better known by the nom de guerreUmm Sayyaf, is the widow of Abu Sayyaf. She was captured in May 2015 by US Delta Force soldiers on the mission where they killed her husband, a suspected leader of the Islamic State.

This article contains a timeline of events from January 2015 to December 2015 related to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS). This article contains information about events committed by or on behalf of the Islamic State, as well as events performed by groups who oppose them.

This is the Military intervention against ISIL ground order of battle, which lists the American forces and allies aerial assets that have taken part in the Military intervention against ISIL between June 2014 and the present day.

Mohmand Valley raid Joint US/Afgan special operations raid targeting an ISIL-KP compound in Nangarhar Province

The Mohmand Valley raid was a joint US/Afghan operation targeting an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP) compound in the Achin District of Nangarhar Province, that lasted from the night of 26 April to the early morning hours of the 27th, 2017. The raid resulted in the deaths of two US Army Rangers from C and D Companies of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and the death of Abdul Haseeb Logari, the leader of ISIL-KP, alongside several leaders, and up to 35 other militants according to The Pentagon.

Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi U.S. military operation in Syria

On October 26–27, 2019, the United States conducted Operation Kayla Mueller, a military operation named after Kayla Mueller, that resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the then-leader and self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist organization. The operation took place in the outskirts of Barisha, Idlib Governorate, Syria. According to General Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) commander who oversaw the operation, Baghdadi killed himself along with two children when he detonated a suicide belt while seeking to evade the U.S. forces during the raid.

Timeline of the American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War

The American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War refers to the United States-led support of Syrian opposition and the Federation of Northern Syria during the course of the Syrian Civil War and active military involvement led by the United States and its allies — the militaries of the United Kingdom, France, Jordan, Turkey, Canada, Australia and more — against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front since 2014. Since early 2017, the U.S. and other Coalition partners have also targeted the Syrian government and its allies via airstrikes and aircraft shoot-downs.

Thomas Payne (soldier) American soldier (born 1984)

Thomas Patrick Payne is a United States Army Delta Force sergeant major and instructor. He was born and raised in South Carolina and after graduating high school there he joined the army in 2002. He was a rifleman and sniper before becoming a special operations team member. He has been deployed 17 times including to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he sustained a serious grenade injury in 2010 that nearly ended his career. On October 22, 2015, he participated in a hostage rescue mission in an area of northern Iraq controlled by the Islamic State at the time, for which he was awarded the United States Medal of Honor for heroism on September 11, 2020.

References

  1. Dan Lamothe (November 18, 2015). "In quiet ceremony, Delta Force soldier killed in Iraq buried at Arlington". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  2. 1 2 U.S. Department of Defense (October 23, 2015). "DoD Identifies Army Casualty". U.S. Department of Defense. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  3. 1 2 McGarry, Brendan (October 23, 2015). "Pentagon Identifies First KIA in Fight against Islamic State". Military.com. Military.com. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "U.S. Identifies American Killed in Iraq Raid as Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler". Wall Street Journal. October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "DoD identifies soldier killed in commando raid in Iraq". Army Times . October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, U.S. Commando Killed in ISIS Raid, Ran to Gunfight". NBC News. October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  7. 1 2 "Hero killed in ISIS raid Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, first U.S. soldier to die in combat against Islamic State". New York Daily News . October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  8. "U.S. ARMY SILVER STAR RECIPIENTS For Actions Since September 11, 2001". United States Department of Defense . May 1, 2017. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  9. 1 2 "Who Was Joshua Wheeler? US Soldier Killed In Anti-ISIS Iraqi Hostage Rescue Mission". International Business Times. October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  10. Torbati, Yeganeh (2015-10-23). "U.S. soldier killed in Iraq raid rushed into firefight: Carter". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  11. 1 2 3 4 U.S. Department of Defense (October 22, 2015). "Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook On Hostage Rescue Mission in Iraq". U.S. Department of Defense. U.S. Department of Defense . Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  12. "Pentagon confirms first US combat death against ISIS". The Hill. October 22, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  13. "Carter: ISIS hostages saved by US raid already had graves dug". The Hill . October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  14. "Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler ID'd as US soldier killed in Iraqi raid". Gulf Live. October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  15. Madhani, Aamer; Colvin, Jill (2020-09-11). "Trump bestows Medal of Honor on soldier for hostage rescue in Iraq". ABC 11. Associated Press. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  16. November Wallace. "Cherokee Nation Honors Fallen Hero Joshua Wheeler". Native News Online. Retrieved 2016-11-05.