Dr. David Wheeler

In an informal letter, Rich McErlean had this to say of Dr Wheeler:

As for Dr. Wheeler... he is one of my all-time favorites and one of the guys Hollywood should make a movie about. He's also described in Rockwell's book. And shows up frequently in Genet's books. I even went to the hotel in Paris where he and his wife lived- the "Roosevelt," which was very popular with American's during the first and second world wars. Sadly, it is now an apartment building so it is impossible to enter. But if you peek in the main door you can still see what it must have looked like as a hotel. I will write a full-blown story on Wheeler as soon as I get the time. I have tried, without success, to track down his family. While he was in the war, his son was in a boarding school. On Wheeler's manifest for his last trip home to the States, he put his destination as Concord, NH, so it's possible his son was at the prestigious St. Paul's school. Who knows, maybe he's still alive! There should be a book project here, as Wheeler's story has every magical element necessary for such an endeavor. But when???

David E. Wheeler, of Buffalo, NY, became one of Edmond Genet's closest friends. Wheeler was a surgeon, a graduate of Williams College and Columbia University. He enlisted in the 3d Marching Regiment in 1915 and during the Champagne battle was awarded the Croix de Guerre when, wounded himself, he carried another wounded man from the battlefield under enemy fire. He was invalided from the Legion but later joined a Canadian regiment as battalion surgeon and returned to France. He later received permission to join the American army and became a surgeon in the american 1st Division. While serving with this unit, he died of wounds received in combat on July 18, 1918.

~~ Walt Brown Jr. (ed), An American for Lafayette: The Diaries of E.C.C. Genet, Lafayette Escadrille. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981).


Buffalo Doctor Served with French, Canadans, and Americans

PARIS, Aug 13.--- Major David E. Wheeler of Buffalo, NY, was killed recently in the allied counter-offensive when attending the wounded under fire.

Major Wheeler came to Europe the first Winter of the war as a Red Cross worker, being a doctor by profession. He enlisted in the Foreign Legion as a soldier on Feb 7, 1915. In the Champagne fighting on Sept 28, 1915, Major Wheeler was wounded in the right leg. After the charging French had passed beyond him he tried to crawl back to the rear, but, finding many wounded and suffering men around him, he stopped and attended them. For this he received the French War Cross.

After leaving the hospital he procured his discharge from the Foreign Legion and joined the Canadian Army, receiving the rank of Captain. When the United States entered the war he was transferred to the American forces and was commissioned Major. He served as regimental surgeon in Lorraine and at Cantigny and Chateau-Thierry.