And some interesting facts about the fallen soldier.On the night October 22nd, air strikes struck roads, bridges and terror camp installations around the central ISIS-held prison facility, cutting it off from possible reinforcements. Six helicopters, Chinooks and Black Hawks, descended on the compound shortly after. These helicopters carried around two dozen elite Delta Force operators and a contingent of about double that size of Kurdish special forces commandos. The plan was that the Americans, would sit back while the Kurdish operators executed the raid on the compound. This clearly did not happen.
Exactly what happened next remains unclear, but Kurdish commandos did come under intense fire during their attempt to take the compound from ISIS forces. Supposedly, the resistance became great enough that Master Sergeant Wheeler decided to jump into the firefight to help. Another version posted by the New York Times states: “A former Delta Force officer who had commanded Sergeant Wheeler in Iraq and had been briefed on the mission said that the Kurdish fighters, known as pesh merga, tried to blast a hole in the compound’s outer wall, but could not. Sergeant Wheeler and another American, part of a team of 10 to 20 Delta Force operators who were present, ran up to the wall, breached it with explosives, and were the first ones through the hole.” The source goes on to describe how a “fatal funnel” can be caused after blasting a hole in a defended compound, drawing all the enemy’s fire to that one infiltration point.
After clearing the compound of ISIS fighters, during which 20 were killed and six were captured, some 69 hostages were found. This number was more than what was anticipated. They included around 20 Iraqi security forces, as well as local residents, officials, and militants that the Islamic State had considered to be traitors. Originally, the raid aimed to free captured Kurdish fighters, although none were found in the facility.
Once the assault force and the freed hostages departed in the American helicopters, USAF F-15Es totally destroyed the compound.
Highly decorated and experienced Delta Force operator, Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, was killed.
Wheeler was 39 years old and had served through a whopping 14 deployments (at least, who really knows how many) with a long list of medals to show for it including four Bronze Stars with Valor, seven Bronze Stars for heroic service in a combat zone, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor and the list goes on and on from there. Wheeler was the real deal, one of America’s most experienced and dedicated special forces operators.
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