PFC. Robert Wheatley Jr. Laid to Rest

June 23, 2009 6:57:43 PM PDT
A South Valley soldier was laid to rest Tuesday after being killed in a rafting accident last month.Private First Class Robert Wheatley Junior, served a year-long tour in Iraq, but died before he was to begin his second tour in September.

Ally Wheatley cried as she laid a red flower on her husband's grave at the Lindsay-Strathmore Cemetery. Her husband, Robert Lang Wheatley was laid to rest on Tuesday with military honors.

The newlyweds met in June 2008, after Robert returned from serving a year in Iraq.

On May 17th, Robert Wheatley disappeared while rafting in Fort Lewis, Washington with eight other soldiers. The rafts the soldiers were on capsized in a fast moving current and Wheatley was the only one who didn't make it to shore. His body was found on June 2nd.

Ally did not want to talk on camera but says Robert was like a father to her four children.

During the service she was presented with a special quilt made by the honor quilt ministry.

Rebecca Wilson makes the quilts with six other people.

"I told her that the quilt was to honor her son Robert and his commitment to serve our country," said Wilson.

Rebecca Wilson founded the Honor Quilt Ministry after four Valley soldiers died in Iraq in May 2007. The volunteers spend about eight weeks making each quilt free of charge.

"They all resemble the American flag and it's just a gift from our heart and we hope it brings a small measure of comfort to the families," said Wilson.

Since 2007, Wilson has sewn 47 quilts for local service men and women past and present, whether or not they died in combat.

"It's very sad and it breaks my heart and there was a time over the winter when I didn't think I could go to another one and face another family but god gives me the strength to go on," said Wilson.

Ally said the quilt will be displayed in her house and will bring comfort knowing it represents her husband's service.

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