Classmate Wheless, Robert "Lee", Maj. (R) Class 13-66
was born at on
11 November, 1942, in Raleigh,
We moved to Baltimore,
Maryland, where my Dad
worked for the Defense Department, painting and lettering military aircraft
during the 2nd World War. After the war we moved to Virginia, where my Dad opened an Auto Body
and Paint Shop and worked at it for the next 40 years. I grew up around that
shop, and learned the business from the bottom up.
I met Peggy Dallas Hagood at Manchester
High School, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and
we married on 28 October, 1959, I was 16
In May, 1960, I enlisted in the US Army, took basic training at Ft. Jackson,
South Carolina, and attended Radio Relay and Carrier (then MOS 293, later it was
re-designated as MOS 31M) school at Fort Gordon, Georgia. I was assigned to
Company "B" of the 50th Signal Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps,
Fort Bragg, North Carollina. I went to ParatrooperSchool
on FortBragg in one of the last classes held
there before they began sending applicants to Fort Benning, Georgia.
Our mission in the 50th Signal was to supply communications support from the
82nd Airborne Division back to Corps headquarters while deployed in a tactical
position. I served as a Radio Relay & Carrier Team Chief and attained the rank
of Sergeant E-5 prior to my discharge in May of 1963.
After a short break in service, I reenlisted and was sent to
Fort Devens, Massachusetts, to attend MorseInterceptOperator
(MOS 058, later re-designated as 05H), and was subsequently assigned to TUSLOG
Detachment 27, in Turkey,
with the Army Security Agency.
Towards the end of 1965 I was accepted for attendance at the US Army Signal
Corps OfficerCandidateSchool at Fort Gordon,
I graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant, with Class 13, in July of 1966. I went on to
Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, to attend the Signal Equipment Repair & Maintenance
Officer School (MOS 4415), and upon completion was assigned to the 160th Signal
Group at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Assigned as the commander of the 54 man
Headquarters Detachment, and as Asstistant S-4 Officer, I had the responsibility
of taking the unit to the Republic of South Vietnam, in June of 1967. After
about 4 months at Long Binh, I was reassigned to the 69th Signal Battalion at
Ton Son Nhut Airbase. I worked for the Bn. S-3 as the Battalion Control Officer,
BATCON, and was often referred to as the Batalion "Batman."
After Vietnam I was assigned as the
Company Commander of the US Army Communications Unit, Army Security Agency,
Europe, in Frankfurt,Germany.
This 250 man unit, including 1 commissioned officer and 5 Chief Warrant
Officers, was responsible for the maintenance and operation of a vital Primary
CRITICOMM Relay Station. This facility served as the primary critical
communications relay facility for continental Europe.
After this command I was assigned as the Chief of Control/Analysis Branch, US
Army HQS, Army Security Agency, Europe. I left Germany to
attend the Signal Officer Advance Course at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
In 1971 I was assigned as the Chief Communications Branch Director,
Communications & Electronics, HQS Fort Eustis, Virginia. I coordinated all
installations and repairs of base communications, including the telephone dial
exchange, the post cable system, data processing communications center, and the
MARS radio station. In 1973 I was selected the Army's Reduction in Force
program and in September, once again left the Army.
In 1974 I reenlisted in the Army Signal Corps and attended the Fixed Station
Technical Controller Course at Fort Monmouth, NJ
(MOS 32D). At completion of this school I was assigned to the 267th Signal
Company, in Pirmasens,
Germany. Here I served as a Shift supervisor
and a senior technical controller. Our work included locating faults or
degradation in communication networks, implementing procedures for testing
transmissions, coordinating with circuit users to accomplish activations and
deactivations, handling special circuit conditioning and testing to ensure
circuit quality, and implementing rerouting procedures due to outages or
degradations in quality.
In 1977 I left Germany to attend the US Army's
Nuclear Power Operators School (MOS 52E, 1 year long) at the ArmyEngineerSchool at Fort Belvoir,
This course included academic subjects for solving a variety of mathematical
problems applicable to electrical engineering, applied physics, and mechanical
and electrical engineering concepts, as well as print reading, electrical
distribution components, and circuits. As an SFC, Senior Prime Power Production
Specialist, I was part of a detachment deployed to
Lake Placid, New York,
in support of the 1980 Winter Olympics. We setup large power generators (diesel
and gas turbine) as emergency back up power for the games. As a reserve
commissioned officer, on active duty in enlisted status, I was promoted to Major
O-4 in 1979.
I retired with 20 year's of Army service in 1981.
and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army
Commendation Medal w/Oak Leaf Cluster, Good Conduct Medal w/3rd award, Parachute
Wings, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Vietnam Service Medal,
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/palm, Overseas Service Ribbon 3rd award, National
Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (served in Counter
Offensive Phase II, Phase III, TET Counter Offensive, and Counter Offensive
Phase IV), Presidential Unit Citation, Driver's Wheel Badge.
Since I left the Army I have been self employed as a Goldsmith/Jeweler and
Gemologist. I performed wholesale jewelry repairs including precious stone
setting and identification, custom made items including handmade and lost wax
cast pieces, ring sizing, prong and chain repair, bead stringing, sterling
silver repair, and jewelry appraisals.
In 1986 I completed a Bachelors degree in Geology, with a minor in Military
Science, at MaryWashingtonCollege, Fredericksburg,
In 1989 I joined a Smithsonian Institute research team in Costa Rica, for
study of the volcano Arenal for 14 days.
In 2000 I volunteered as a SpotsylvaniaCounty
firefighter, graduated from Firefighter I School, and served at Chancellor
In 2003 I completed a Masters of Arts Degree in Physical Science and Liberal
Studies at the University of Mary
Washington (formerly MaryWashingtonCollege) in Fredericksburg,
Virginia. Also in 2003 I applied for and received a U.S.
Merchant Mariners Document (MMD), and a Federal Communications Commission
License for Radiotelephone Operator, in preparation for applying for a position
in the communications department on sea going vessels with the Military Sealift
Command, in support of the US Navy. In November of 2004 I was offered a position
as described, but had to decline due to a family illness.
In June 2005 I retired from full time work, and now work only two days a week.
This page originally posted 8 January,
2009. Pictures updated 24 February, 2009.
Original Site Design and Construction
By John Hart, Class 07-66. Ongoing site design and maintenance by
courtesy Class 09-67.
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