Local Veterans Honor Fallen Soldier With 21-Gun Salute

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MULDROW (KFSM)-- Master Sergeant Josh Wheeler, who died during a rescue mission in Iraq, went to Muldrow High School.

He graduated in 1994 and immediately began his army career.

Wheeler was the first American service member killed in action fighting ISIS, and at Friday night’s (Oct. 30) Muldrow High School football game, there was a 21-gun salute, followed by a moment of silence in his honor.

Robert Muchison is a United States Air Force veteran who was part of the 21-gun salute. He said the ceremony meant even more than honoring the fallen. It's about keeping their memory alive.

“It's very important,” Muchison said. “Some people forget that these people are giving their lives for the freedom of our country and trying to help other people gain freedom.”

Wheeler was killed during a raid to free about 70 prisoners who were about to be executed. During his military career he received 11 Bronze Stars, four of those with valor.

“He was an outstanding combat soldier, obviously,” Vietnam veteran, Johnny Gothard, said. “They do not pass those bronze stars around lightly.”

Gothard said the ceremony means something to every person who has served in the military.

“It's very emotional for me,” Gothard said. “It brings back a lot of memories from a long time ago and also the terrible losses we suffered in protection of our freedom.”

Every branch of the military was represented at the ceremony, and they all agreed that losing Master Sgt. Wheeler was like losing a brother.

“It's just like losing a family member, so that's hitting pretty close to home,” Muchison said.

A date for Wheeler's funeral has not been set.