MG Ralph Phelps

Born: Spokane, WA 13 June 1914
Died: Spokane, WA 5 January 1985

General Phelps graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1932 and completed two years of instruction at Whitworth College, concentrating in Mathematics. Additionally, General Phelps completed the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College. He was for many years an Investment Banker with the Pacific-Northwest Company of Spokane. His civic affiliations included the University Club, The American Legion Post #9, The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #51, the Press Club and the Spokane Chamber of Commerce. General Phelps was a member of the National Guard Association of U.S., the National Guard Association of Washington, a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and a licensed pilot.

General Phelps began his long and distinguished military career when he enlisted in Company B, 161st Infantry Regiment, Washington Army National Guard on September 23, 1936. As a member of Company B, he rose to the rank of sergeant and as a result of completing the “10 series” Army Extension Courses, was commissioned a second lieutenant on August 2, 1940.

General Phelps was inducted into Federal Service on September 16, 1940 as a member of the 161st Infantry Regiment. During WWII he participated in the Guadalcanal and Northern Solomons campaigns earning the Bronze Star (meritorious), Asiatic-Pacific Medal with two stars, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge. During combat assignments with the 161st Regiment, he commanded Infantry companies as both a Lieutenant and Captain, and served as a Battalion Executive Officer, Operations Officer and Commander at the Battalion level. He was released from federal service on July 23, 1946.

General Phelps re-entered the Washington Army National Guard as Commander of 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry on May 13, 1947. On July 20, 1948, he was promoted to Colonel and in 1959 was assigned as Commander of the 1st Battle Group, 161st Infantry, 41st Infantry Division. On October 1, 1959 he was appointed Assistant Division Commander, 41st Infantry Division and promoted to Brigadier General of the line on December 16, 1960.

General Phelps assumed command of the 41st Infantry Division on June 5, 1962 and was promoted to Major General of the line on April 9, 1963. At the completion of his command, he was awarded the Washington Army National Guard Distinguished Service Medal. He served in command of the 41st Infantry Division until his retirement on September 30, 1967.