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Posted almost 5 years ago
Remains of Idaho soldier found 4 decades after Vietnam
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Remains of Jesse Phelps back in Idaho
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BOISE - After four decades, an Idaho soldier is finally home.
Chief Warrant Officer Jesse Phelps was flying a helicopter in December 1965, when it was shot down in the highlands of Vietnam.
He and three other Americans onboard were first reported missing, then dead.
Tuesday, Phelps’ remains were returned to the Boise Airport.
Thousands of servicemen who have served overseas are still listed as missing. Phelps' family says they feel lucky that his remains are back on U.S. soil.
For 44 years, Dee Phelps waited to find out what happened to her husband.
“Maybe he was a prisoner or something like that, I guess I had hopes that someday that they would find him alive,” Dee Phelps said.
Last year, a Department of Defense search team tracked down the Vietnamese sniper from 1965 that shot down Phelps’ helicopter.
The sniper led them to the crash site - An Khe.
Dental records confirmed teeth found at the site were from Jesse Phelps. He was 28 when he died.
“It felt real surreal,” Dee Phelps said.
After Jesse and Dee met, they started a family and had four children. Son Jeff was only 8 when his father died.
“More emotional for me in that I didn’t know him, more emotional for me in that my kids didn't know him,” Jeff Phelps said.
Jeff Phelps went to Hawaii, looked at the remains the search crew found and reported back to his mother.
“It was important to us that we do it for her,” Jeff Phelps said. “She needed the closure. It was a very a fulfilling moment when we saw the casket coming off the plane.”
The soldier received a hero's welcome. The Idaho Air National Guard transferred his casket, and the patriot guard stayed by his side until the family could privately say goodbye.
“He was a very good father, and was a good husband,” Dee Phelps said.
“Everything that I’ve been told about him by mom and other family members was that he was very dedicated to his family and family was the most important thing to him in the world,” Jeff Phelps said.
Jesse Phelps graduated from Nampa High School in 1955.
Friends and family can see a video tribute and sign a guest book from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Cloverdale Funeral Home.
Phelps will be laid to rest Thursday, which would have been his 72nd birthday.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. at Capital Christian Center, followed by his burial at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetary.
01:20 PM MDT on Wednesday, September 30, 2009
-58 postsback to top
| Posted almost 5 years ago
Thank you for your service, rest in peace.
34 postsback to top
| Posted almost 5 years ago
R.I.P. and BUMP
Faith Hope Love and Laughter