NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Fallin, lawmakers mourn death of Oklahoma soldier in Iraq

Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler
Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler

WASHINGTON _ Gov. Mary Fallin and members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation on Friday mourned the death of U.S. Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, of Roland, who was killed in Iraq during a hostage rescue mission.

Fallin said, "Joshua Wheeler serves as a reminder that there are heroes in this world who will stand up to evil. His courage and his sacrifice helped to free dozens of people from imminent death. I am proud that a man with that kind of bravery and heroism called Oklahoma his home. He will not be forgotten.”

The governor plans to lower flags on the day of Wheeler's memorial service. A date has not been confirmed.

“There is no greater sacrifice than risking one’s life in combat to further the cause of freedom, and Master Sgt. Wheeler paid the ultimate price to free those held captive by an evil enemy," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore.

"For that, we owe him an eternal debt of gratitude. While we can find comfort in knowing that his sacrifice ensured freedom for many, his loss is devastating to our state, our nation and to his loved ones. My sincerest thoughts and prayers remain with his family and friends as they grieve for who he was, what he achieved and what he had yet to accomplish. He will be missed and remembered for his heroism and bravery to bring freedom.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said, “My prayers and my thoughts go out to the family of Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, an American hero and Oklahoman who was killed in action in Iraq. Wheeler’s death was not in vain. Because of his bravery and sacrifice, he was part of a successful effort to free 70 hostages that were being held by the Islamic State. While the administration declared an official end to our combat mission in Iraq in 2010, Oklahomans and our nation are reminded today that combat is still a reality for our all-volunteer force serving in the Middle East.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said, “I am grieved to hear that one of Oklahoma’s own, Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler was killed in action yesterday while liberating captives held by ISIL in northern Iraq. His heroic efforts secured the safety and livelihood of about 70 individuals. Americans and Iraqis owe Master Sergeant Wheeler and his family our deepest gratitude and respect for a life of selfless service.

“America’s service men and women continue to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend the liberty of all people and protect our nation’s interests against those who would do us harm. We pray for the family of Master Sergeant Wheeler as our nation grieves this loss with them. I pray we all experience the nearness of God through this incredible loss. As Psalm‬ ‭34:18 says, 'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.'"

Rep. Steve Russell, R-Choctaw, said, “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of fallen Oklahoma warrior MSG Joshua L. Wheeler. MSG Wheeler's bravery and sacrifice with his special operations unit resulted in 70 hostages being rescued from ISIS. 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' We pray for comfort and peace for his family in this difficult time.”

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, said, "“Master Sgt. Wheeler served our country courageously and selflessly. He put the safety of all of us before his own during his time in Iraq. Christie and I offer our deepest condolences and pray for comfort for the Wheeler family during this difficult time. Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety and our freedom. May God hold them in his loving hands and safeguard them as they protect us.” 

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›