b. 24/07/1947 Moselle, Mississippi. d. 11/08/1967 Quang Nam, Vietnam.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 11/08/1967 Quang Nam, Vietnam.
Wheat was born on July 24, 1947, in Moselle, Mississippi. He attended public schools in Ellisville, Mississippi, but dropped out in 1965 after two years of high school. In September 1966, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at Jackson, Mississippi. Wheat then reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. He underwent recruit training with the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, after which he completed special infantry training with the 1st Infantry Training Battalion, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Upon completion of infantry training, he was promoted to private first class in February 1967.
Wheat arrived in Vietnam in March 1967, and was assigned duty as a rifleman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. His unit participated in numerous combat operations, including Operation Desoto in the c Ph District, Qung Ngãi Province, and Operations Webster, Arizona, Butler and Gem in Qung Nam Province. He was promoted to lance corporal in June 1967.
On August 11, 1967, Wheat and two other Marines were assigned to provide security for a Navy construction battalion crane and crew operating along Liberty Road in Dien Ban District, Qung Nam Province. After setting up in the tree line adjacent to the work site, Wheat searched the surrounding area for guerrilla fighters. He had returned to within 10 feet (3.0 m) of the security post when he triggered a well-concealed bounding mine. Hearing the distinctive hiss of the mine's fuse, Wheat shouted a warning to his two fellow Marines and then threw himself on the device, smothering its blast with his body. He was killed in the ensuing explosion. For this act, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. L/Cpl. Wheat and 2 other marines were assigned the mission of providing security for a Navy construction battalion crane and crew operating along Liberty Road in the vicinity of the Dien Ban District, Quang Nam Province. After the marines had set up security positions in a tree line adjacent to the work site, L/Cpl. Wheat reconnoitered the area to the rear of their location for the possible presence of guerrillas. He then returned to within 10 feet of the friendly position, and here unintentionally triggered a well concealed, bounding type, antipersonnel mine. Immediately, a hissing sound was heard which was identified by the 3 marines as that of a burning time fuse. Shouting a warning to his comrades, L/Cpl. Wheat in a valiant act of heroism hurled himself upon the mine, absorbing the tremendous impact of the explosion with his body. The inspirational personal heroism and extraordinary valor of his unselfish action saved his fellow marines from certain injury and possible death, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
BURIAL LOCATION: EASTABUCHIE BAPTIST CEMETERY, EASTABUCHIE, MISSISSIPPI.
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