Craig Marine buried

Phelps remembered as 'greatest hero'


DUBOIS, Wyo. -- Former Craig resident Chance Phelps was remembered as a friend, a good son and a patriotic Marine proud to serve his country.

Hundreds of friends and family lined the streets in Dubois on Saturday to say goodbye to Pfc. Chance Phelps, who was shot and killed west of Baghdad on Good Friday when the convoy he was protecting was ambushed.

"We were awestruck by the reception that Chance and the family received from the community and the people of the United States," said Jeff Mack, a former Craig resident who is married to Phelps' mother, Gretchen Mack. The Macks now reside in Riverton, Wyo.

"We were overwhelmed by the amount of people that chose to come to Chance's services," Jeff Mack said Sunday.

Many were from Craig, he said.

"A lot of his schoolmates were there and several of the people that Gretchen worked with from the power plant were there. We've received numerous cards and letters of condolence from people in Craig and we really appreciate all their support and kind words."

Phelps was 19, and had been in Iraq for a month. In his eulogy, Rear Admiral Richard Porterfield, Director of Naval Intelligence, said Phelps' name ''will go down in the memory of the Corps as one of its greatest heroes.''

Phelps' family and friends wept during the services, placing flags and flowers on his coffin. His father, John Phelps, hugged his sister, Kelley, at the end of the ceremony, while Phelps' mother tapped his coffin lightly with her hand.

Phelps was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, Calif. He spent his early years in Dubois, then moved to Craig while in grade school. After his junior year at Moffat County High School, Phelps transferred to Palisade High School.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps during his senior year. After graduation, he left for boot camp in San Diego. After completing artillery school training at Fort Still, Okla., Phelps was attached to the 1st Marine Division.

Many of those at Saturday's funeral had played baseball with Phelps or remembered him as a young boy who played with their children. ''When you're playing with a kid you're 8, 9, 10 years old, you don't think 'One day I'm going to sing at his funeral,''' said Andrea Schiffbauer, a friend of Phelps' stepsister who sang ''America the Beautiful'' and ''Amazing Grace'' at the services in the Dubois High School gymnasium.

Jeremy Adams, a Marine from Powell, Wyo., met Phelps once at the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Center in California. They were in different batteries but had an instant connection and spent their time together talking about their respective hometowns, Adams said. Asked if Phelps seemed young, the 25-year-old Adams shrugged and said, ''They kind of always seem young.''

Rain and snow fell most of the afternoon, but throngs of people lined the streets of Dubois, waving flags as Phelps' coffin was taken to a cemetery in a horse-drawn carriage. The Marines provided an honor guard and fired a 21-gun salute, Jeff Mack said.

Many stores in town were closed. A sign in the window of the Dubois Drugstore read ''Chance Phelps you are loved and missed.''

The Craig Daily Press and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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