Face of Defense: Marine Recalls Bomb Blast

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.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)