Held In: KORSNAS, GRANNA, in Northern Province
Long Interned: 237 days
at Capture: 21
Received: AIR MEDAL W/two BRONZE OAK LEAF CLUSTERS, AIR FORCE
PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION, AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL, EUROPE - AFRICA -
MIDDLE EAST CAMPAIGN MEDAL (ETO) W/ BATTLE STAR (ETO), WORLD WAR II
VICTORY MEDAL, AIR FORCE RESERVE MEDAL
after War: Technical Writer
Merritt W. Wheeler, Jr., Air Force, Retired died December 29, 1998 at
Cushing Memorial Hospital, Leavenworth, KS, of heat disease and was
buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN. He was 75
and a resident of Leavenworth, KS for 35 years.
Mr. Wheeler was a World War II combat veteran. He was born 30 January
1923 in St. Paul, MN. He attended public schools there and graduated
from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science degree.
Soon after Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he enlisted as a private in
the US. Army Air Forces. In April 1943 he was commissioned Second
Lieutenant at the age of 20 in the Army Officers Reserve Corps (ORC)
with the rating of Bombardier. His father, Dr. Wheeler, served in France
during 1917-18 as an Army surgeon; and his brother, Capt. John Zadoc
Wheeler, fought gallantly against the Japanese Imperial Army during the
Battle of Bataan (WWII) with the Army 26th Cav. Regt. (Philippine
Scouts). He survived the Bataan Death March, but later died under tragic
circumstances in a prison ship following his internment as a prisoner of
Mr. Wheeler performed his combat service with the 92nd Bombardment
Group, 8th Air Force in the United Kingdom. He flew 17 missions against
the Luftwaffe over Germany and occupied countries as a Bombardier in
B-17 heavy bombers. On his final missions (Berlin, 9 March, 1944) his
aircraft was damaged and forced down at the target. After a solo flight
at low altitude across Northern Germany the crew crash-landed their
crippled aircraft in southern Sweden where the crew was interned for
seven months at the villages of Korsnos and Granna in the Northern
During the Korean War he served as a bombing instructor for crews posted
to combat operations. During the Viet Nam War he worked as a civilian
employee (Material Analyst and Editor) at the Army Command General Staff
College and the Institute of Combined Arms and Support, Army Combat
Developments Command, Fort Leavenworth.
He was awarded the Air Medal with two bronze Oak leaf Clusters; Air
Force Presidential Unit Citation; American Campaign Medal; the
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Battle Star (ETO);
World War II Victory medal; and the Air Force Reserve Medal. He served
28 years, active and reserve, and retired with the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel, Air Force Reserve.
Mr. Wheeler was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Disabled
American Veterans; Eighth Air Force Historical Society; The American Air
Museum (UK); the 92nd Bomb Group Memorial Corp; Retired Officers
Association; the Reserve Officers Association; Life Member, Past
Commander, and Chaplain of the Heart of America Chapter of the American
Ex-Prisoners of War, and member of the Leavenworth Chapter. He was a
former member of the Greater Leavenworth Kiwanis Club and member of St.
Paulís Episcopal Church.
Mr. Wheeler is survived by his wife, Judith Hall of Lincoln, KS, and his
sister, Henrietta Wheeler, wife of Judge Andrew A. Glenn of St Paul.
Merritt and Judith were married 31 December, 1975 in Jefferson County,
KS. Other survivors include daughters Holly Wheeler Gabiou of Chicago
City, MN; Julie Anne Wheeler of Minneapolis, MN; one son, James W.
Wheeler of Bemidji, MN and five grandchildren.
After his retirement in 1972, Mr. Wheeler pursued an active career as a
Securities Analyst and Private Investigator. In recent years he has been
an active donor to the Kansas State and U of M Foundations, funding
scholarship programs for students majoring in Forestry and Agricultural
Science. Burial was at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN.