Airman sentenced for merchandise thefts during Iraq campaign
ARLINGTON, Va. — An airman who stole from an exchange at an undisclosed forward operating base got a stiff sentence that includes seven months in an Army brig in Mannheim, Germany, according to an Air Force news report.
In the Air Force’s first Operation Iraqi Freedom court-martial, Airman 1st Class William W. Wheeler, 19, from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., admitted he stole more than $7,500 worth of merchandise, from digital videodisk players and movies to chewing gum.
The items came from a base exchange where Wheeler, who is from the 405th Expeditionary Munitions Squadron, was a volunteer. Wheeler deployed in January and volunteered as a stock person at the exchange from Feb. 3 until his discovery March 14.
During his May 18 court-martial, Wheeler admitted that he took the items by stashing them in the tent’s air conditioning duct during working hours and retrieving them once the store was closed.
His spree ended after a store employee went to turn off the air conditioning and discovered the items.
During the trial, Wheeler also admitted to receiving and possessing pornographic and sexually explicit material from a fellow airman. Pornography is prohibited in the Operation Iraqi Freedom theater.
Wheeler pleaded and was found guilty of larceny and violation of a general lawful order. He was sentenced to reduction in grade to E-1, seven months confinement with forfeiture of two-thirds of his basic pay during that time, and a bad conduct discharge.