John Wheeler, Vietnam Memorial Leader, Murdered
John P. Wheeler III, chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund during the Ronald Reagan era, has been murdered.
A man who fought to get the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built and served in two Bush administrations was murdered, Delaware police say.
John P. Wheeler III, 66, was found dead in a Delaware landfill, and his death has been ruled a homicide by Newark, Del., police. They are asking the public for leads in the case.
Wheeler’s body was found in Wilmington on Friday after a disposal truck containing his body made pickups in Newark.
Wheeler, who lived in New Castle, was chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund during the Ronald Reagan era. He also held many high-profile government positions after graduating from West Point in 1966.
The USMA Class of 1966 was an illustrious group, profiled in Rick Atkinson’s The Long Gray Line.
Jim Fallows has a warm memorial to his friend:
I worked with Jack on a book called Touched With Fire, about the post-war experiences of people who were in uniform during Vietnam and people who (like me) were actively opposing the war. He was chairman of the committee that got the Vietnam Veterans Memorial built. That is now taken as a great, triumphant icon of commemorative architecture, but at the time the “black gash of shame” was bitterly controversial, and Jack Wheeler was in the middle of the controversy — raising money, getting approvals, collecting allies and placating critics until the wall was built. A few days before it opened he called to invite me to be one of the readers who would, over a long stretch of hours, take turns saying aloud the names of every person recorded on the wall.
He was a complicated man of very intense (and sometimes changeable) friendships, passions, and causes. His most recent crusade was to bring ROTC back to elite campuses, as noted here. That is what I was corresponding with him about in recent months. To be within email range of Jack was to look forward to frequent, lengthy, often urgent-sounding and often overwrought dispatches on the state of the struggle.
The Wheeler family has a long line of distinguished military men, including Colonel John Parsons Wheeler, Jr., who made a name for himself at a little place called Ramagen.