Wheeler Middle School

Ensuring Success for Every Student Since 1968 - Phone: (808) 305-9000

Sheldon Harley Wheeler

Stacks Image 51

On 11 November 1922, the new airdrome at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was named Wheeler Field in honor of Major Sheldon H. Wheeler, who was killed in an air-craft accident on 13 July 1921 at Luke Field.

Located on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Luke Field was commanded by Major Wheeler at the time of his death.

Born on 6 April 1889 in New York City, Sheldon Harley Wheeler received his early education in Vermont. After attending the University of Vermont for two years, he was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduated on 12 June 1914, and was commissioned a second lieutenant.

A dark-complected man, his nickname at West Point was "Black Sambo," which led to his being called "Sam" the rest of his life.
Lieutenant Wheeler served one year with the 25th Infantry before starting his aviation career in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps at Rockwell Field, California, where he was rated a junior military aviator on 2 September 1915.

As a member of the 1st Aero Squadron, Lieutenant Wheeler served with distinction during the punitive expedition into Mexico under the command of General John J. Pershing. He received his promotion to first lieutenant on 1 May 1916, then transferred later that year to the cavalry.

On 8 June 1917, he attained the rank of captain of cavalry and, that same year, transferred back to the air service. He was assigned to Kelly Field, Texas, as officer in charge of flying and commanded the 8th Aero Squadron. After a month there, he became officer in charge of flying at Scott Field, Illinois. From September 1917 until the spring of 1918, he served in the same capacity at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, and at Carlstrom Field in Arcadia, Florida.

In March 1918, Captain Wheeler joined the American Expeditionary Force in France, where he was placed in charge of the flying field at Orly. On 1 August 1918, he was promoted to major, Aviation Section, Signal Corps.

Upon returning to the United States in April 1919, he was stationed at Hazlehurst Field at Long Island, New York, and given the full rating of military aviator. Major Wheeler next transferred to Hawaii, arriving on 25 October 1919, and assumed command of Luke Field on 4 November 1919. His commission as a major in the Air Service was made permanent in the Regular Army on 1 July 1920.
On 13 July 1921, Major Wheeler was killed instantly with Sergeant Thomas Kelly when the observation bi-plane he was flying fell into a flat spin while landing and burst into flames after crashing at Luke Field. Major Wheeler's assignment with the Hawaiian Department was scheduled to terminate on 1 October 1921, and he had already received orders detailing him to the field officers' school at Langley Field upon completion of his tour of duty in Hawaii.

Sheldon H. Wheeler, only 32 years old when he died, was survived by his wife and two sons. His widow died in 1939. One son, Pat, graduated from West Point in January 1943, served with the 11th Airborne Division, and was killed in Manila in January 1945.

His other son, S. Harley Wheeler, was commissioned in the ROTC from Purdue in 1941, and attained the rank of colonel in the U. S. Army. In January 1968, while on R&R from Vietnam, he and his wife visited Wheeler AFB. Following retirement from military service, he became a trust officer in the National Bank of Commerce of San Antonio. Two of his children, Kathie and Gil, visited the base named after their grandfather in 1976 and 1981 respectively .