PEOPLE--UNITED STATES

Private First Class Wesley Phelps, USMCR, (1923-1944)

Wesley Phelps was born on 12 June 1923 in Keafus, Kentucky. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from that state in April 1943. Following recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, California, and instruction at the Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Elliott, he was assigned to the Twenty-Seventh Replacement Battalion. In the fall, Phelps joined Company M, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, and departed for combat duty in the Pacific war zone. Phelps participated in battle at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, then transferred to Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines. In April, he was promoted to Private First Class.

On 4 October 1944, while Phelps served with his battalion on Peleliu Island, Palau Group, the Japanese enemy waged a hostile counterattack. He was at an advanced point with a fellow Marine when an enemy grenade landed in their foxhole. Immediately, Phelps rolled onto the deadly missile and absorbed the blast, sacrificing his life to save his comrade. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Wesley Phelps is buried at Rosine Cemetery, Rosine, Kentucky.

This page features the only image we have concerning Wesley Phelps.

Photo #: NH 106423

Private First Class Wesley Phelps, USMCR


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 240.
Wesley Phelps was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while serving with the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in action against Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau Group on 4 October 1944.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 49KB; 580 x 765 pixels

 


Medal of Honor citation of Private Wesley Phelps, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 240):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau Group, during a savage hostile counterattack on the night of 4 October 1944. Stationed with another Marine in an advanced position when a Japanese hand grenade landed in his foxhole, Private First Class Phelps instantly shouted a warning to his comrade and rolled over on the deadly bomb, absorbing with his own body the full, shattering impact of the exploding charge. Courageous and indomitable, Private First Class Phelps fearlessly gave his life that another might be spared serious injury, and his great valor and heroic devotion to duty in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service."


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