Yuma, AZ – United States Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agent Mark Wheeler died on Aug. 8 after a four-year cancer battle.
The 43-year-old agent, a married father of five, was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer in 2017, the Holtville Tribune reported.
“Everyone knew he was going through a lot, but he always put on a brave face when he came to work,” El Centro Sector Supervisory Agent Joyce Golosino told the paper two days after Agent Wheeler’s death. “That’s why he is the epitome of strength.”
Agent Wheeler, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, served with the 1st Battalion 24th Marines from 1998 through 2005, the Holtville Tribune reported.
“Mark was an outstanding man, father & friend,” the U.S. Border Patrol El Centro Sector said in a press release on Aug. 12. “As a Marine, his commitment to his country started young & never wavered. He proudly served his country while deployed overseas for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Agent Wheeler joined the U.S. Border Patrol on Dec. 7, 2009, and was assigned to the El Centro Sector.
“As a Border Patrol Agent, he was always held in high regard and known throughout El Centro Sector for his hard work, leadership, and kindness,” the sector’s press release read. “His courage and strength lifted everyone around him.”
Agent Wheeler was later assigned to the Border Patrol Havre Sector in Montana, where he served as commander of the sector’s Honor Guard, the Holtville Tribune reported.
He returned to the Imperial Valley in 2016 and was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer the following year.
Agent Wheeler was assigned to the El Centro Sector and continued to serve as a law enforcement officer throughout his four-year cancer battle.
When he ran out of sick time over the years, his tight-knit Border Patrol family donated their own paid leave, the Holtville Tribune reported.
Agent Wheeler leaves behind his wife of 10 years, Karina, as well as his children, Calvin, Khloe, Adriana, Karina, and Jerry, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by his mother and siblings.
A fundraising campaign established to help Agent Wheeler’s family in the wake of their loss has raised over $20,900 so far.
“It was an honor to serve alongside Mark and his memory will remain forever in our hearts,” the El Centro Sector’s press release read.
Agent Wheeler was laid to rest on Saturday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of United States Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agent Mark Wheeler, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.