I am saddened to inform you that Jim Wheat passed away this morning April 8, 2005 at a hospice center in Jonesboro, GA. Services were held at the Catholic chapel on Fort Mcpherson which is located outside of Atlanta, GA. Anyone wishing to honor Jim's memory may do so with a donation to the American Cancer Society.
The folowing is a short bio of Jim that was handed out at his memorial service at a chapel located on Fort McPherso in Atlanta. Jim received full honors including a final role call at a very moving ceremony.
Sergeant Major (Retired) James Walter Wheat
James Wheat was born on July 27, 1942 in Morehouse, Missouri to Victor and Wanda Wheat. The first of six siblings, Jim was followed by Bob, Viki, Steve, Janet, and Lissie. Victor’s career in the U.S. Air Force allowed the family to live many places during Jim’s upbringing to include Missouri, Illinois, Okinawa, Ohio, and France. Some of Jim and his brother Bob’s fondest memories center on their time at Verdun American High School in France, so much that they both participated in the school’s worldwide reunions. Jim had deep and abiding love for three things in his life – his family, our Army and his friends.
SGM Wheat joined the U.S. Army on 19 May 1961 in St. Louis, Missouri. Always an adventurer never one to shy from any challenge, he opted to join the ranks of JFK’s elite new corps of professionals – the Special Forces. Following basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Direction Finding School at Fort Devens, Massachusetts he was assigned to 1st Special Forces Group (SFG) in Okinawa. There he completed Airborne School and also spent an early six-month tour in Vietnam. Returning briefly to Okinawa, he then continued his SF Qualifications at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, back to Fort Devens and finally the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. In addition to the arduous SF Branch and Special Identification Courses, he completed French Certification and Portuguese Language coursed.
Clearly most significant during this extensive training and qualification period, while at Fort Devens in early 1965, he met and fell in love with Joan Patricia Haines of nearby Ayer. They married on 31 December 1965 and quickly, with her three children, Bobby, Shelley, and Jody, were off on what became their worldwide odyssey. First a three year tour with 8th SFG in Panama where Sherry soon joined the family and Jim completed Jungle Operations and Jumpmaster courses. Next the growing family was off to a two year Okinawa tour, and then Joan and the four children moved to Salina, Kansas while Jim spent a second year long tour in Vietnam. The family reunited at Fort Devens for three years, where Kenny became the last child to join their ranks. Next they were off to Field Station, in Berlin, Germany for three years and then to their first FORSCOM assignment at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Their next move took them to Hawaii and Field Station Kunia for three years where Jim served as First Sergeant. Returning to the Atlanta area from Hawaii, Jim rejoined FORSCOM in what proved to be his last assignment in uniform.
Jim’s medically forced retirement from our Army at FORSCOM on 26 March 1985, was his lifetime’s greatest disappointment. Highly decorated and much accomplished he left the service with Bronze Star Medal; Meritorious Service Medal w/2 Oak Leaf Cluster’s(OLC’s); Army Commendation Medal w/2 OLC’s; Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal w/7 Knots; Army of Occupation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; NCO Professional Development w/numeral 3; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Ribbon w/numeral 4; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; Meritorious Unit Medal; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry w/Palm; three Overseas Service bars; Special Forces Tab;
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