Face of Defense: Marine Recalls Bomb Blast
By Marine Corps Cpl. Walter D. Marino II
2nd Marine Division
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Oct. 25, 2011 As a teenager working on farms and in construction in his hometown of Urbana, Ohio, Marine Corps Capt. Chase B. Wheeler never thought he’d one day be a Marine combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
Wheeler’s blue-collar work ethic gave him the drive to work hard. After high school, he earned a degree in construction management and mining. It was while playing football for Morehead State University that Wheeler decided he wanted to fight for the United States.
“I didn’t want to be 55 saying, ‘I wish I would have done this.’ It was my obligation to fight for my country, because there was a fight to be had,” said Wheeler, executive officer of Company C, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division here.
Military service runs in Wheeler’s family. His father served as an Army staff sergeant. His grandfather is a World War II veteran, and his great-grandfather fought in the Spanish-American War.
“Being around veterans -- it was kind of set I would serve in some sort,” Wheeler said.
In Afghanistan, Wheeler led Marines in clearing roadside bombs from convoy routes and building combat outposts. While on patrol during his first deployment, Wheeler was wounded by an improvised explosive device blast.
“I’m fortunate to be alive,” he said. “Makes you realize the importance in life -- family and friends.”
Wheeler’s fighting spirit was undiminished. In February 2011, Wheeler deployed again with 2nd CEB.
Marine Corps Capt. John E. Shubeck, Wheeler’s company commander, noticed Wheeler’s courage during one mission in particular.
“We were in combat during the whole operation,” Shubeck said. “Multiple times he stood out from the side of a vehicle with binoculars to draw fire behind tree lines and determine where the fire was coming from. It was successful. We were able to bring air [support] on station and break up the enemy assault.”
Wheeler’s father and fellow Marines from Afghanistan were present Oct. 3 when he was awarded the Purple Heart and promoted to captain.