Schuyler Wheeler - Tech Sergeant
Schuyler Bertrom Wheeler was born 11 August 1915 to Schuyler J. and Eva (Carlson) Wheeler on a farm near Boone, Iowa. He was graduated from Boone High School in 1933, Boone Junior College in 1938, and from Iowa State College with the Class of 1941. He worked at a creamery in Peoria, Illinois before entering the service.
Wheeler joined the army on 12 July 1942. After two years of intensive training at Fort Scott, Illinois, Sgt. Wheeler was deployed to France on 1 August 1944. Wheeler was a member of the 95th Infantry of General Patton’s 3rd Army, and his division was the first to capture the age-old fortress city of Metz. His division established the first bridgeheads that allowed passage across the Moselle River, which was crucial for the Allied forces in the West in retaking German-held territory. Wheeler's division was one of the first to engage German forces in the counteroffensive known as the Battle of the Bulge. On 15 December 1944, at the age of 29, Sgt. Wheeler was killed by machine gun fire entering the City of Ensdorf, Germany. His remains were returned to this country from a temporary cemetery and he was laid to rest in the Mackey Cemetery near the City of Boone, Iowa.
More on Schuyler's story...
Boone, Iowa is a town with a rich, and storied history. It was named after a veteran of the War of 1812, Captain Nathaniel Boone, son of Daniel Boone. It was the home of the first Fareway and Casey’s General Store. Boone was also the location where Schuyler Bertrom Wheeler was born to Schuyler J. and Eva (Carlson) Wheeler on 11 August 1915. He grew up on a one-hundred-sixty-acre farm, and like many children of his generation, he watched the effects of the Great Depression bring unexpected changes to his family. Farm prices dropped throughout the 1920s, and with the onset of the Great Depression, prices nearly bottomed out, forcing many farmers to sell off land, including the Wheeler family. By the time Franklin Roosevelt became president and launched his “New Deal” in 1933, Schuyler graduated from high school. Perhaps it was the impact of the Great Depression that served as the impetus for Schuyler’s pursuit of a college education. He enrolled in Boone Jr. College before entering Iowa State College, majoring in Dairy Industry. Schuyler arrived on campus right about the time Iowa State completed construction on a new milking parlor. His Dairy Industry education paved the way for his first job at a creamery in Boone after graduation in 1941. He eventually moved to Peoria, Illinois and worked at a creamery there until 12 July 1942: the day he joined the army.
Tech Sergeant Schuyler Wheeler received two years of intensive training at Fort Scott, Illinois. After training, his family held a farewell celebration for him before he was set to deploy to Europe. Schuyler attended the gathering in full uniform, showing that he was proud to be “doing his part” for his country. He took great pride as a solider in the United States Army, and he demonstrated his enthusiasm when he taught his nephew Keith how to march, salute, and other drills he learned when he was at Fort Scott. The Wheeler family understood the daunting mission that awaited Schuyler, and they wanted to ensure that they sent him off knowing how proud they were of him, and that they loved him.
Sgt. Wheeler left for France on 1 August 1944 as a member of the 95th Infantry of General Patton’s 3rd Army. Two months earlier, the Allied Forces opened a second front against the Axis Powers on mainland Europe, and by late summer pushed further into German-occupied territory. Sgt. Wheeler’s division was crucial to the Allied offensive in Western Europe. He helped establish the first bridgeheads across the Moselle River, which provided passage into Eastern France in preparation for the eventual assault on mainland Germany. On their way, Wheeler’s division liberated the fortress city of Metz, France, which was the last major city between the Allies and the German border.
On 5 December 1944, the 95th Infantry approached the “impregnable” Siegfried Line. Referred to as “the Dragon’s Teeth” by the Allies, the Siegfried Line was a German-defensive line built during the 1930s opposite the French Maginot Line. Fighting intensified at the Siegfried Line, which the Allies expected. But unknown to Patton and the rest of the 3rd Army, another reason for the stiffening resistance was Germany’s plans to launch a counteroffensive against the Allies. This last major offensive initiated by Germany became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The German Army hoped to push through the Allied line, cutting their forces in two, which would prolong the war.
On 15 December 1944, the day before the start of the Battle of the Bulge, Sgt. Wheeler’s division established bridgeheads across the Saar River in preparation for an assault on German troops in the town of Ensdorf, Germany. As Wheeler entered the city attempting to help liberate it, he was killed by German machine gun fire. After temporary burial in Europe, the body of twenty-nine-year-old Schuyler Wheeler was returned to Boone, Iowa to be permanently laid to rest. Schuyler’s brother, Waldo, was in Belgium helping the Allied cause at the time of his death. After the war, Waldo named his son Schuyler to honor his late brother.
Over 418,000 Americans gave their lives in the Second World War. People like Sgt. Schuyler Wheeler died while fighting to defeat fascism and to preserve liberty for the world. We continue to reflect on the lives of those we lost in the war. The words penned by President Abraham Lincoln – in letter he sent to console a mother after the loss of her sons in the Civil War – remain significant today. The note is timeless in its recognition of the sorrow felt by the Wheelers, and all the families and friends who lost loved ones fighting for America.
“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the alter of freedom.”