Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Remembering Richard Wheeler on the 64th Anniversary of Iwo Jima

Richard Wheeler


"As for Death, I had come face to face with that old ogre
and noticed he was mostly a sham.
I'd enjoy the truce he granted me,
but would live with the feeling that when he renewed his fight in earnest,
I'd be able to make my surrender without begging for terms."

The above quote was taken from Wheeler's book, The Bloody Battle for Suribachi. Wheeler passed away this past October 21st at the VA Medical Center in Lebanon. I had met Wheeler on a quest to find any surviving member of my grandfather's army unit who fought in Guam during World War II. Wheeler was very helpful, although I was only able to find men who had served in the army unit before or after my grandfather.

Here is Wheeler's obituary written by his sister, Margery Wheeler Mattox. Wheeler sent me an autographed copy of his 2006 update on the The Bloody Battler for Suribachi. As of November of 2006, 9 survivors remained of Easy Company's 3rd Platoon. Chuck Lindberg the last survivor of either flag raising passed in June of 2007.

Here is a copy of what I wrote about Wheeler on the 60th Anniversary of Iwo and and updated two years later.

Jack Lucas the youngest ever winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor at age 17 passed away on June 5th of 2008.

In a strange twist, Wheeler sent me a copy of his annual Death Rhyme, written when he was 70 years old just three weeks before his death.


My years are nearing 87.
I'm mighty close to Hell or Heaven.

Though Heaven's touted as very nice,
I plan to spurn this Paradise.

Whenever I ponder its effort-free quiet,
I'm moved to dismal boredom by it.

Iver lived as and active kind of guy
Who rated creative endeavors high.

Perhaps I can wangle a deal with Satan
To spend Eternity busy matin'.

Here's remembering Dick. A man who went to hell some 64 years on a small island in the Pacific and came out of it a better human being on the other side.

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