Raymond Albert Wheeler
|Birth name||Raymond Albert Wheeler|
|Born||31 July 1885|
Peoria, Illinois, United States
|Died||9 February 1974 (aged 88)|
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., United States
|Branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1911–1949|
|Unit||United States Army Corps of Engineers|
|Commands held||Chief of Engineers (1945-1949)|
Commanding general of the India-Burma theater of operations
Acting Governor of the Panama Canal Zone
World War I
World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal (4)|
Legion of Merit
(m. 1912; died 1954)
Raymond Albert Wheeler (31 July 1885 – 9 February 1974) was a lieutenant general in the United States Army Corps of Engineers and an engineer of international recognition. He fought in both World Wars, at the Marne in World War I, where he earned a Silver Star, and in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II, where he personally accepted the Japanese surrender in Singapore. During and after the war he held key roles in major engineering projects of the 20th century, to include construction of the Ledo Road, St. Lawrence Seaway, and Missouri Basin Program, the clearing of the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis, and the construction of tens of thousands of miles of rail and highway through Iraq and Iran during the development of Allied supply lines from Europe to Russia during World War II.
Life and career
He was born to Stephen and Margaret (née Maple) Wheeler in Peoria, Illinois on 31 July 1885. He attended the United States Military Academy, graduating 5th in his class in 1911, subsequently participating in the construction of the Panama Canal and working on engineering projects in Mexico with Douglas MacArthur, who was then a captain in the Corps of Engineers.
At the time the United States entered World War II, Wheeler was developing a transportation network in the Middle East to ship munitions to the Soviet Union, which involved the extensive rebuilding of the railroads and highways of Iraq and Iran. In autumn 1943, he was appointed to the South East Asia Command (SEAC) of the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II on the staff of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, where he served as principal administrative officer and directed construction of the Ledo Road. From February 1944, he served as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, replacing General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, and was the United States' representative in August 1945 at the Japanese surrender in Singapore.
He served as Chief of Engineers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 4 October 1945 to 28 February 1949, managing major projects including the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Missouri Valley Development. Following his retirement from the Army in 1949, Wheeler joined the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development as an engineering consultant; among the projects he was consulted on was a 9,000-mile survey of Indus basin water resources. He commanded the United Nations Suez Canal Clearance Operations following the 1956 Suez Crisis.
Awards and honors
|External color images|
|Lieutenant General Wheeler of the South East Asia Command, sitting at his desk during World War II, March 1945|
|Lieutenant General Wheeler on a telephone in March 1945|
In 1945 Wheeler received the honorary title Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE, Military Division).
typifies all that is best in leadership, training, experienced judgment, character and warm friendship in both the military engineer and the civilian engineer. His accomplishments throughout his life are outstanding, have brought great credit to his chosen profession, and mark him an eminent engineer of national and international recognition. His significant contributions include the monumental task of clearing the Suez Canal.
He was made a member of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (I.E.E.E.), vice president of the Society of American Military Engineers for 1949, and a member of the board of review of the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority. He was also a member of the chairman advisory board of the Mekong River Survey Mission in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, from 1960-1969, and an honorary member of American International Assurance.
Dates of rank
|No insignia||Cadet||United States Military Academy||15 June 1907|
|No pin insignia at the time||Second lieutenant||Regular Army||13 June 1911|
|First lieutenant||Regular Army||3 September 1913|
|Captain||Regular Army||1 July 1916|
|Colonel||National Army||2 November (accepted 6 November) 1918|
|Major||Regular Army||5 August 1917 (temporary)|
1 July 1920 (permanent)
|Lieutenant colonel||Regular Army||11 July 1918 (temporary)|
1 August 1935 (permanent)
|Colonel||Regular Army||1 February 1940|
|Brigadier general||Army of the United States||29 September 1941|
|Major general||Army of the United States||11 March 1942|
|Lieutenant general||Army of the United States||21 February 1944|
|Major general||Regular Army||1 October (accepted 4 October) 1945|
|Major general||Regular Army, Retired||24 January 1948|
|Lieutenant general||Regular Army, Retired||1 March 1949|
- China Burma India Theater of World War II
- Major General Albert Wedemeyer, Lieutenant General Daniel Sultan
- "Past Hoover Medal Recipients". American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
- "Register of the Raymond Albert Wheeler papers". oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
- "Raymond Albert Wheeler". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
- "Biography of Lieutenant General Raymond Albert Wheeler (1885−1974), USA". generals.dk.
- "Gen. Raymond Wheeler Dead; Led Army Corps of Engineers". The New York Times. 10 February 1974. p. 51. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
- "Raymond Wheeler - Recipient -".
- "Communique'" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Official Army and Air Force Register, 1948, p. 1940.
- Official Army Register, 1950, p. 868.