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