View Full Version : Father and son Marines return from Iraq to Silver Lake

10-05-05, 05:32 AM
Father and son Marines return from Iraq to Silver Lake
Associated Press

SILVER LAKE, Kan. - A father and son assigned to the same Marine unit for seven months of duty in Iraq have been welcomed home by hundreds of people in this northeast Kansas community.

A crowd waited Monday for Master Gunnery Sgt. Kendall Phelps and his son, Maj. Christopher Phelps, in the football stadium of Silver Lake High School. Others lined the street leading to the school, and yellow ribbons adorned light posts on U.S. 24 into the town of about 1,300 outside Topeka.

"If you'd spend seven to eight months in another country, you'd realize how great it is here," Kendall Phelps told an estimated at 800 people.

Christopher Phelps said the homecoming was "the one time in my life I'm at a loss for words."

They were both part of the 200-member 5th Civil Affairs Group, deployed to Iraq to help civilian officials restart school systems, re-establish local governments, train police and repair infrastructure.

The unit's members included lawyers, doctors, and educators, such as Kendall Phelps, who taught music at Silver Lake High School. Christopher Phelps, an operations officer at the Corps' Mobilization Command in Kansas City, Mo., had three years of experience with a similar unit in Washington as a reservist.

Kendall Phelps joined the Marines after high school in Rock Island, Ill., and served in Vietnam in 1966-67. He continued as a reservist but was forced to retire after 30 years in 1999.

His son also joined the Marines out of high school and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1994. He spent five years on active duty, then became a reservist.

He sought active duty again after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and did a tour in Iraq in 2003. The father also volunteered for active duty after the terror attacks.

Their duties took them to different cities, Fallujah and Ramadi in central Iraq. Christopher Phelps said he and his father talked only once during their deployment in Iraq.

But they rectified that situation with a four-day drive from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Silver Lake.

"We had a lot of catching up to do," Christopher Phelps said.