Eldon "Papa" Wheeler
Our Tribute. In the fall of 2000, I was preparing to take the position of Executive Officer of Magnum Company, 3/278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee Army National Guard. In an effort to be as prepared for that responsibility as possible, I spent a few hours interviewing Papa. He had first hand combat experience - I did not. I needed a real insider's account should my unit ever deploy (four years after this interview, I deployed to Iraq as Commander of Magnum Company).
So, Michelle and I took an afternoon that fall and visited Papa and Nanny in Waverly, TN. We talked for several hours. I diligently took notes and recorded the conversation. He had many exciting and harrowing stories to share. Only later did I learn that Papa rarely shared these stories. He had previosly spoken at length to his grandson, David Wheeler, but most of the family knows little of the details of his combat service. I felt honored and priveledged to hear what he had to say. Now, I am sharing what I learned that day with the family.
In these pages you will find brief descriptions of the battles Papa fought in (thanks Wikipedia). In addition, I've placed the associated audio files from the interview that describe his personal experiences there. The audio is a little difficult to hear, as I pulled it from nearly 12 year old mini-cassettes. Plus, you'll hear Nanny and Michelle holding their own conversation in the background. I have not tried to describe Papa's stories in writing. Those are best experienced hearing them in Papa's own words.
Wayne Culbreth, December 25, 2012