Nearly three months after he first disappeared and a month before he is to be honored at Arlington National Cemetery Delaware’s Vietnam Veterans are planning their own honor of John Wheeler.
A brick in memory of Wheeler will be laid the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Dover. The Delaware veterans group will hold a ceremony Wednesday March 30th at 11am at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park, which was dedicated in November 2009.
Wheeler was last seen in Wilmington during the evening of December 30th. He was found the next day at the Cherry Island Landfill in a dumpster. The dumpster has been traced to the Newark area, although the exact location has never been revealed. Newark Police are the lead investigators. They have searched the area around Wheeler’s New Castle home several times looking for evidence. However, they have not released much information about the investigation since the autopsy results were released several weeks ago showing that Wheeler died of blunt force trauma.
All of this comes as a website has been set up to honor Wheeler. Tributes continue to be written at www.johnpwheeler.com. Recent postings have been written by Anna Duerr from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving: “John was a tremendous public servant and an important part of MADD’s early years…(he)served passionately as a volunteer and an executive committee member, in addition to serving as chairman of the board and CEO from 1985 to 1987.”
Former classmates have written their tributes as well: “Jack and I shared a special bond in that our fathers were classmates in the West Point Class of January 1943,” wrote John Eckert.
And from Albert Nahas: “I was preparing a copy of my book Warriors Remembered for Jack when I heard of this terrible tragedy. When writing the book, Jack was extremely helpful in sharing his story of the memorials at West Point.”
Paul Davis, President of the Delaware Vietnam Veterans of America says the honor to Wheeler is appropriate. “His most relevant accomplishment to us and following veterans was his vision and work in making The Wall a reality despite ongoing opposition,” he said. Wheeler was considered instrumental in getting the funding portion of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC organized to the point where it could be built.
The group will host Wheeler’s widow Katherine Klyce to the hour long ceremony. Klyce has expressed criticism and frustration about the Newark police handling of the investigation. In late April the family will hold a funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery where Wheeler will be buried with full military honors.