Tulsa World

Retired National Guard brigadier general dies

- TIM STANLEY

Ed Wheeler, a retired National Guard brigadier general, writer and speaker, died Aug. 31. He was 83.

A service is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Moore’s Southlawn Funeral Home.

Wheeler, well known in the state’s military community, was a longtime leader with the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

The pinnacle of his service came in 1990-91, when he commanded the mobilizati­on of state National Guard troops for the Persian Gulf War.

His command included overseeing the mobilizati­on and deployment of some 1,800 Guard members from Oklahoma, the first ones called to active duty since the Korean War in 1950.

Reflecting on it later, Wheeler said he found it difficult to send young men and women to combat, especially since he knew many of the Guard members and their families personally. But he “just choked it down” and went on with the job.

He was grateful that all the troops survived to come home.

Wheeler was awarded the Legion of Merit for his exemplary performanc­e of his command.

He retired afterward, ending 35 years of military service.

Wheeler, whose longtime

day job was in corporate communicat­ions, had a passion for history and held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the subject.

A prolific writer and frequent speaker, he authored hundreds of history- and military-related articles for various publicatio­ns, as well as one book, “Doorway to Hell: Disaster In Somalia.”

One of Wheeler’s articles, although written 50 years ago, was back in the spotlight recently.

In 1970, at a time when the subject was still not widely known or acknowledg­ed, Wheeler had set out to learn the truth about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Ahead of this year’s massacre centennial, Wheeler discussed the challenges and pushback he faced when he

began work on what today is considered the first serious contempora­ry look at the events of May 31-June 1, 1921.

“I just wanted to find out what happened,” he said of the work that went into his 1971 article “Profile of a Race Riot.”

Over the course of the yearlong project, Wheeler was advised to drop the subject by community leaders, and he even received threatenin­g notes and phone calls, which led him to temporaril­y move his wife and son out of their home.

“The more I ran into that kind of opposition, the more it aggravated me,” Wheeler said. “And I’m not the kind of person that can be put off easily when I have a mission. That’s not how I became a general.”

 ?? MICHAEL NOBLE JR., TULSA WORLD ?? Ed Wheeler, a retired Oklahoma National Guard brigadier general and former Tulsa Community College history instructor, is shown earlier this year. Wheeler died Aug.31 at age 83.
MICHAEL NOBLE JR., TULSA WORLD Ed Wheeler, a retired Oklahoma National Guard brigadier general and former Tulsa Community College history instructor, is shown earlier this year. Wheeler died Aug.31 at age 83.

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