Wheaton, Harry J. (899th, 16th Grp)

Harry J. Wheaton 1Harry J. Wheaton

Biography:  Harry Joseph Wheaton was born on May 28, 1903, in New York. He was the son of Orlando H. Wheaton and Josephine Philtz. On May 7, 1927, he married the former Ottolene F. Gentle at Centralia, Washington. Ottolene was born in Missouri and was the daughter of George B. Gentle and Lois N. Balthorpe. 

Service Time:  Very little is known about Wheaton’s early military career but we do know that he was commissioned as an Infantry Officer and in January 1932, 2nd Lt. Wheaton was serving with the Ninth Coast Guard Artillery District, with their headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco. Cpt. Wheaton was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 99th Antitank Battalion on July 1, 1940, when the unit was activated. Also assigned were LTC Paul L. Ranson, commanding, and Herbert J. McCrystal. Wheaton was later promoted to Major and transferred to Fort Hood, Texas, where he would be assigned to the Tank Destroyer School as head of their Automotive Department. As of November 1942, he held the rank of LTC.

The 16th Tank Destroyer Group was activated on April 3, 1943, at Camp Bowie, TX. Wheaton was chosen to command the unit and was promoted to Colonel. The unit moved to Camp Hood, TX, on May 9, 1943, and after their training, the moved to Fort Jackson, SC, on Oct. 18, 1943, and were attached to XII Corps. They were then transferred to the Tennessee Maneuver Area on Jan. 21, 1944, and then to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, on March 24th, as part of XXII Corps.

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They received orders to move to Camp Kilmer, NJ, and arrived on October 15, 1944, to prepare for shipment. The unit remained there until they departed from the New York Port of Embarkation on November 1st. They  arrived in England on November 9th and after three months of additional training and preparations, they  shipped to France, landing on February 17, 1945.

In the photo above, Col. Wheaton inspects the troops, including Phil Added, Nagle and Lindsey. They were stationed at Foxley Manor, in England at the time.

The 16th TD Group acted as the XXI Corps Anti-Tank section and moved into Germany on March 23, 1945, participating in actions in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns.

Wheaton would continue to serve in Germany and took command of Sixth Constabulary Regiment of the 3rd Constabulary Brigade, at Bamberg, during the summer of 1947. On August 22nd, the Regimental Headquarters moved to Schweinfurt. In October 1949, Wheaton was relieved by Col. George A. Rehm. Col. Wheaton would also serve during the Korean War. 

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At some point, Harry married Leah “Laverne”, who had been born in Portland, Oregon. In 1996, Leah established the set up the Harry J. Wheaton Scholarship by providing a financial gift, in the name of her husband, who had been a faculty member at the American University’s Kogad School of Business, in Washington D.C. He worked at the school and in 1963, he was an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean to the Undergraduate program.

He received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Washington and a Masters in Business Administration from the American University. In 1965, he was teaching a senior Business Policy course at the American University and was involved with the Omicron Delta Kappa faternity.  

Harry J. Wheaton 5Harry passed away on June 10, 1975, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, Section 6, Site 5010-A. I want to thank Jack Whitt for the use of the Foxley Manor photo and thank you to E-Yearbook for the photo of Wheaton, while working at the American University. The photo is used by permission of Digital Data Online, Inc.v Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor, Dave Farris, for providing the grave marker photo.