Remembering & Honoring Private Bobbie Dee Phelps
By Jim Johnson
On September 5th, 2015 Phelps Street in
Gleason, Tennessee was formally dedicated as "PVT Bobbie Dee Phelps
Memorial Way" as part of the 2015 Tater Town Special program. This
dedication was to honor the memory of Private Bobbie Dee Phelps, who
was attached to the 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry
Division, of the US Army, who was killed in action in Korea on April
The dedication ceremony of "PVT Bobbie Dee Phelps
Memorial Way" began with thoughtful opening comments by Gleason Mayor, Diane
Poole and were followed by a heartfelt presentation by Mr. Jim Phelps, who
commented on the circumstances
surrounding Bobbie Dee Phelps making
the ultimate sacrifice for his country - much of which is presented
In his comments Mr. Phelps noted that that Bobbie's Grandfather, Elvis
Jackson Phelps, built the very first house on Phelps Street, where Bobby Phelps was born
- "the yellow house located just down the street on the left"
- (the old Roy Hodges home at 223 Phelps
Mr. Phelps indicated that
Bobbie completed high school at Gleason School and moved to Michigan
He went on to say that Bobbie was drafted into
the army on October 22, 1950. After completing his basic training he
was sent to Korea, arriving there on April 13th, 1951. He was
attached to the 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
According to the Unit's history, on April
22nd, nine days after he arrived in Korea, 21 Chinese and 9 North
Korean divisions attacked our American troops, with the main
objective being the capture of Seoul, South Korea. On the seventh day of that battle, Bobbie and 12 other members of his unit were killed by mortar rounds - on
the 16th day in Korea.
Mr. Phelps related that, while
our "Killed in Action Service Members" are usually home within a
week, that was not the case back then, noting that it took six months
for Bobbie's body to be returned home.
Sadly, before Bobbie was returned home, his brother,
Ted, who was also in the Army, received orders to go to Korea.
Phelps noted that now the
family, grieving the loss of one son and not yet having the
opportunity to bury him, now had another son headed to the same war.
Mr. Phelps stated that, despite his grandmother writing
letters and calling every congressman who would listen, since his
dad was not a sole surviving son, he would have to go! As a result,
in October 1951, Ted (Mr. Jim Phelps' father) arrived in Korea -
but he would only spend 24 hours there.
On the day of arrival, Bobbie's brother Ted was told
that he would be returning home. Not because of the letters that had
been written on his behalf but because Bobbie's body was now ready
to be returned home, six months months after he died, and Ted was to
be the one to escort his brother back. That is what Ted did! He
arrived back in Gleason with Bobbie's body, attended the funeral and
then, consistent with his orders, returned to Korea.
Mr. Phelps went on to say that "within about a
seven-month period, my Grandparents have had to send one child to
war, have that child die in that war, watch another leave for the
same war, had them both return home, buried one and had to watch the
other son return to war a second time. - The stress must have been
According to Mr. Phelps, Bobbie's name is presently listed on
two war memorials. One is in Weakley County, where he grew up. The
other is on the Ingram County War Memorial in Michigan where
he lived when he was drafted.
It is clear that PVT Bobbie Dee Phelps, by serving
and making the ultimate sacrifice for his country, is truly
deserving of having this street, where he was born, named "PVT
Bobbie Dee Phelps Memorial Way" in honor of him.