Camp Pendleton Marine killed in Iraq
DUBOIS, Wyo. — Pfc. Chance Phelps, a Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Marine killed in Iraq last week
will be buried in his former Wyoming hometown, a friend said Monday.
Phelps, 19, of Clifton, Colo., will be buried in Dubois, said Ed Wilkerson, a friend of the family and
commander of the VFW chapter in Dubois. No date was set.
Phelps died in gunfire Friday while battling insurgents west of Baghdad, according to his father,
John Phelps, who lives in Dubois.
The Department of Defense confirmed Phelps’ death Monday. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion,
11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
His mother, Gretchen Mack, said she learned of her son’s death when two Marines showed up at
her door at 2 a.m. Saturday.
“I don’t think anything can prepare you for two young men standing in the living room telling you
your son’s been killed,” Mack said. “It’s just surreal. They were crying.”
She last talked to her son last Wednesday night.
“He said, ‘Mom, I’m fine.’ He sounded great,” she said. “It was really good to be able to talk to him. It
made us feel better.”
Members of the Colorado House of Representatives observed a moment of silence for Phelps on
Monday at the request of two lawmakers from Grand Junction, Colo.
Mack said her son drew people to him with his humor.
“He had an unusual amount of zest,” she said. “He just possessed this quality that he had to be in
the thick of things all the time. He was very, very positive, very funny. ... His main thing in life was
making people laugh.”
The young man also loved to hunt and fish and spent summers with his father in Dubois.
“He was very in tune politically,” said Mack, who lives in Riverton. “He knew what he wanted for this
country. ... He told me after 9/11, ‘I absolutely have to go. I’ve got to do something.”’
Joining the military isn’t anything new for the family. John Phelps is a Vietnam veteran. Chance
Phelps’ sister, Kelley, 22, works at the Pentagon and is engaged to an Army sergeant.
Chance Phelps spent his early years in Dubois, then moved to Craig, Colo., while in grade school.
His mother was married to Craig resident Guy Whitlock for eight years. After the marriage ended,
she moved to Palisade, Colo., where Phelps graduated from high school last year.
“He was a great kid,” Whitlock said. “Everybody liked him. He was an athlete, an avid hunter and he
liked the outdoors. He liked all the things that Moffat County had to offer.”
Sometime during high school, Phelps decided he wanted to be a soldier, “especially after 9/11,”
Whitlock said. “I’m very proud of him.”
Friends recall Phelps as a fun-loving, hard-nosed kid. He was big but didn’t throw his size around to
intimidate people, said Jarod Estey, 19, of Craig.
“He was probably the toughest kid I knew growing up in grade school. He was probably the biggest
kid, too — well-built and strong,” he said. “But he was real easy going. He always had a smile on his
Pfc. Chance R. Phelps
United States Marine Corps
KIA 9 April 2004, Iraq
Memorial Page Established By- JC and Pam Colnot
We watched the movie about you yesterday. There were so many similarity's,
your last name is Pams' mothers maiden name, you left this earth the same month as we lost
our son Sgt. Kyle A. Colnot KIA 22 April 2006 near Baghdad, Iraq.
The honor and respect shown for you was very touching, and we send our love and support
to your family. You are an American Hero Chance, may you rest in peace.
July 25, 2010
SFC Rod Brewer
In Honor Of PFC Chance R. Phelps, OIF, 04/09/2004
easy, sleep well my brothers.
the line has held, your job is done.
easy, sleep well.
have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
peace, and farewell...
Taking Chance Home.. Chance .,. You Will Never Be Forgotten..
JC and Pam .. you have me crying again.. Thank You All for what you do.. SFC Rod 07/25/10