1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)

A 19-year-old soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord who was killed Sunday in a two-vehicle collision in University Place was identified Monday by officials from the military base.

Specialist Christofer Wheeler died Sunday after he struck a vehicle at about 1:30 a.m. at the intersection of South Mildred and South 19th Streets. Tacoma Police Department said speed was a factor in the crash. Wheeler was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wheeler was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), according to a news release from the unit. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina and attended Ridge View High School, where he graduated in 2020. Wheeler played several sports, including track, basketball, football and wrestling. He enlisted in the Army in June 2020 as a culinary specialist.

“Spc. Wheeler was a hard-working soldier who brought joy and positivity into the lives of the soldiers he worked with,” said Col. Ryan Ehrler, commander of 1st Special Forces Group. “We mourn the loss of our brother and will always be grateful for his service to our nation. Our deepest condolences go out to Spc. Wheeler’s family.”

After graduating from Basic Combat Training in August 2020, Wheeler went to Advanced Individual Training to learn to become a culinary specialist, according to the release. He then attended Army Airborne School in May 2021, qualifying on the T-11 parachute and earning the title “Paratrooper.”

Following Airborne School, Wheeler was assigned to his first duty station at JBLM. According to the release, he worked at the Army Dining Facility at the 1st Special Forces Group Warrior Restaurant.

Wheeler has been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Parachutist Badge. He is survived by his mother, Crystal Chayvon Clay; his sister, Marketta Guitroz; and his grandmother, Sylvia Mickens.

Spc. Christofer A. Wheeler.
Spc. Christofer A. Wheeler. 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)

This story was originally published May 10, 2022, 8:11 AM.

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Peter Talbot covers crime and breaking news in Pierce County. He started with The News Tribune in 2021. Before that, he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. In college, he worked as an intern at NPR in Washington, D.C. He also interned for the Oregonian and the Tampa Bay Times.


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