03 September 2009

Spc. Abraham Sherrod Wheeler

Via The State
Just before he died, Columbia soldier Spc. Abraham Sherrod Wheeler III commented on his Facebook page about the soaring U.S. death toll in Afghanistan.

“Man, so many soldiers fallin all over this ... country,” the 22-year-old Wheeler wrote Aug. 22 on the social networking Web site. “My heart goes out to them.”

On Monday, the Pentagon announced Wheeler died last week when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle during fighting in rugged Logar province.

Wheeler’s name now is listed among 47 U.S. service members who died in August — the bloodiest month since the United States started fighting in Afghanistan in 2001.
August’s toll surpasses July’s record 44 deaths. So far this year, 179 U.S. service members have been killed in action in Afghanistan.

That compares with 116 U.S. combat deaths in Iraq this year, according to the Web site icasualties.org, which tracks deaths of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wheeler, assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, died Friday in the same blast that injured CBS correspondent Cami McCormick and two other soldiers.

McCormick suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to her legs and arms, CBS reported. She was being treated at the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The two soldiers were treated for minor injuries and returned to duty.

Three Afghans believed to be responsible for the bombing were apprehended by U.S. soldiers and are being detained at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, CBS added.
Wheeler also is the 16th member of the U.S. military with S.C. ties to die in Afghanistan; 62 have fallen in Iraq.

Abraham Wheeler Jr. said he last talked to his son Wednesday, just two days before the blast.

They talked about “general things,” said Wheeler Jr., a retired carpenter. But his son, whom friends called “Rod,” was excited about a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme he was restoring.

Wheeler Jr. said he wanted to get the car repainted in time for his son’s homecoming this fall.

Spc. Wheeler’s unit deployed to Afghanistan in December, but rumors were flying that the troopers might be leaving Afghanistan in late October, the soldier’s father said. Wheeler said his son was home in late June for two weeks’ leave.

The 62-year-old Columbia man was home last Friday when an Army casualty officer and a chaplain showed up at his front door.

“I knew when I pulled the curtain back what they were here for,” Wheeler said. “My legs felt like they just went out from under me. My hands and arms were shaking, I could barely unlock the door. Then I walked back to the couch and sat down.
“I’ve never had a feeling like that ever. My heart, it felt like it had fallen down to my foot.”

Wheeler said his son joined the Army in 2007, two years after graduating from Ridge View High School. At 6 feet, 2 inches and 260 pounds, his son played defensive end for the Richland 2 school, Wheeler said.

In their last phone call, Wheeler said his son mentioned that “things were getting a little hectic, but he told me not to worry because he would be all right.”

But on his Facebook page, Spc. Wheeler said the fighting was grim.
“Fallen comrade ceremony,” Spc. Wheeler said in an Aug. 25 entry about a fellow trooper, Cpl. Darby T. Morin, 25, of Victoria, Canada, who died Aug. 22. “That ... don’t really hit you ova here until it’s someone u kno personally. R.I.P. Darby.”
Three days later, Spc. Wheeler was dead.

Services are pending, the family said. Bostick & Tompkins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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