Joshua Wheeler is the American commando who was killed on a rescue mission in Iraq involving ISIS hostages on October 22. He was Delta Force commando, according to the Department of Defense. Wheeler attained the rank Master Sergeant and was from Roland, Oklahoma. He was 39 years old.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was Stationed at the Special Ops Command
KOCO News in Oklahoma reports that Wheeler was stationed at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was a graduate of Muldrow High School in Muldrow, Oklahoma.
2. He Did 14 Tours of Duty in Iraq & Afghanistan
According to the official website of the U.S. Army, Wheeler joined the army as an infantry man in May 1995 in Fort Benning, Georgia. From there, he was designated to Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington. In 1997, he joined Company B, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, during which time he did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2004, Sgt. Wheeler has been a member of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and was deployed on 11 different occasions to Iraq and Afghanistan.
3. He’s the First Member of the U.S. Military to Be Killed in Action Against ISIS
Sgt. Wheeler is the first member of the U.S. military to be killed in action while fighting against ISIS. He was killed by gunfire in the Kirkuk Province of Iraq in what’s dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. forces on the ground are part of President Obama’s new plan to “train and advise” Iraqi troops. In June 2015, the president unleashed 450 U.S. military personnel on the ground in Iraq as part of this plan.
The day before Sgt. Wheeler’s death, the DOD updated the public on the operation against ISIS forces saying “Since operations began against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant targets in Syria and Iraq, the coalition has conducted 7,603 airstrikes.”
4. ISIS Was Planning a ‘Mass Execution’ Just Prior to the Raid
During the mission, U.S. forces freed around 70 hostages. NBC News reports that U.S. intelligence received a tip that ISIS had been planning a mass execution prior to the operation. CBS News reports that those freed were Iraqi prisoners.
5. Despite the Presence of Iraqi Forces in the Operation, It’s Not Classified as a ‘Joint Raid’
CBS News reports that U.S. forces were assisted by Iraqi Peshmerga troops on the ground, but it has not been classified as a “joint raid” by the Pentagon.