At 17 years of age, Leon joined the United States Navy and was stationed on the USS Midway. He frequently shared military stories of his time living in Japan, his Persian Gulf Deployment, and when he received his Shell Back certificate while crossing the equator. Leon eventually joined the Naval Reserves, training in Astoria, Oregon, at the Tongue Point Naval Air Station. 

After years in the logging and trucking industry, Leon decided he wanted to work in the healthcare field. He quickly earned a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification and promptly went to work at St. John Medical Center, working within the Behavioral Health Unit and in the Emergency Department (ED) as an ED Technician. He loved working as a caregiver and was passionate about his patients, especially veterans.

His family was not surprised when he came home one day and announced he had joined the National Guard. His love for his country and his desire to serve in the military was a passion he shared with everyone. In December 2006, Leon had to leave the military and career due to his battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). After a long battle with MS, on November 27, 2019, Leon passed away surrounded by his wife, children, and close family friends throughout his last days.

Leon was an avid hunter, fisherman and family man. He loved being outdoors and spending time with his wife, children, relatives in Idaho, church family, and his trucking friends. Leon was a life-time member of the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 1045, where he previously served as Post Commander and District commander. He was a member of the American Legion Post 155 and a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). He spent countless hours volunteering for veteran activities within the local community.

Leon is survived by his wife Tami Wheeldon, his son Josh Wheeldon, daughters Erica (Daniel) Dodson, Kylie (Doug) Stroebel and his precious grandsons Maverick Wheeldon, Cole and Owen Stroebel.

Character Strength Stories:

Bravery - After completing his first contract with the USN post-Vietnam, Leon continued to serve his country in the USN Reserves. After Sept 11th 2001, he insisted on joining the US Army National Guard. Attempting to deploy with the 81st BDE in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), he found himself in Arizona guarding our nation's borders. He was diagnosed with MS while serving and was forced out of the military he so proudly served. However, his service didn't end, he continued to advocate for Veterans throughout the Pacific Northwest.

-Submitted by Joshua, Surviving Son


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