William Wheeler was born on July 3, 1949, in Pasadena, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on December 5, 1968, and completed Hospital Corpsman A School at Naval Hospital Corps School San Diego, California, in May 1969. His first assignment was as a Hospital Corpsman at the Naval Hospital on Camp Pendleton, California, from May 1969 to December 1970, followed by Underwater Swimmers School at Naval Base Key West, Florida, from January to April 1971. Petty Officer Wheeler attended Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in May and June 1971, and then served with SEAL Team ONE at NAB Coronado, California, from June 1971 until he died on active duty on December 16, 1983. During this time he deployed to Southeast Asia from January to July 1972, where he participated in Operation Thunderhead, a clandestine mission to rescue escaping American Prisoners of War off the coast of North Vietnam. Chief Petty Officer Wheeler also deployed to U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines from January to June 1973, and later attended the U.S. Army Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, from November 1974 to April 1975.
The Sailor's Creed:
I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.