In the early 1990′s, I met and became friends with Mike Phipps. At that time, Mike was trying to make a living as a licensed battlefield guide in Gettysburg. He’d done a hitch as an officer in the Regular Army, having gone through Ranger training and then service with the Old Guard. Mike left the Army to pursue a career in law enforcement, and then decided try guiding. Mike’s done a lot of research and writing on John Buford, and has written an excellent account of the fight on East Cavalry Field.
Several years ago, Mike decided to go back into the Army. He joined the National Guard and later enlisted in the Regular Army. This time, he went in as a sergeant and not as a captain, which is the rank he held during his first stint of duty. Mike did one tour in Iraq and then had some health problems, and he wasn’t sure he would be able to go back on active duty. Fortunately, he recovered and re-deployed to Iraq last month.
I got the following e-mail from Wayne Motts by way of my friend Greg Biggs today:
My Friend SSGT Michael Phipps
By Wayne E. Motts
06 May 2007Twenty-one years ago as a nineteen year-old licensed battlefield guide candidate, I had the pleasure to meet Mike Phipps an officer in the United States Army and like me a student of the Battle of Gettysburg. Mike and I took the guide test together and as classmates have guided on the Gettysburg Battlefield for two decades. After leaving the military for a career in law enforcement, Mike re-entered the Pennsylvania National Guard and as a soldier in the 109th Infantry Regiment spent three months in Iraq last year. After being relived of active duty, he decided at age forty-nine to enter the regular army again. Earlier this year, he reported to Fort Hood, Texas and was assigned to the First Cavalry Division.
On 5 April 2007, Mike arrived in Iraq for his second combat tour. Two days after he reported to a base between Bagdad and Anbar Province his convoy passed over two one hundred and thirty pound mortars buried under the ground. Luckily these IEDs (improvised explosive device) failed to detonate. They were later safely detonated by coalition forces. From the time of his arrival in country until today, Mike spent most of his time on combat patrols as a member of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th United States Cavalry Regiment. He constantly reminds me that as a â€œBlack Knight Trooper,â€ he shares a common history with Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The old 2nd United States Cavalry Regiment, later designated the 5th United States Cavalry in August 1861, was commanded by Lee from 16 March 1861 to 25 April 1861. This was Leeâ€™s last command in the old army.
At 2:00 PM EST, 6 May 2006, Mike called me from a hospital bed in Iraq. He was wounded in action while on a combat patrol at 10:00 AM Bagdad time this morning. As one of a five -man team, he had just exited a house when insurgents showered his group with automatic weapons fire. Mike was struck in the side of the left shoulder blade with the round passing out of his body. His fellow patrol members took him to safety. Fortunately there were no other casualties among his comrades. When he spoke to me he was lucid and in good spirits. He will remain in the hospital at Bagdad for sometime and then be transported to Landstuhl Air Force Base. The prognosis is not known at this time. I will get his address when he lands somewhere more permanent.
In times like this, it is well to remember the daily challenges, concerns, and worries of our lives, while annoying, mean little. I know all of you will join me in keeping Mike in your thoughts and prayers. He passes on his good wishes
So, not only is Mike a student of Civil War cavalry operations, he is on active duty as a cavalryman in the modern Army, serving in a great regiment with a storied history. Mike is also the first Iraq casualty whom I know personally, and that puts a completely different face on things. Hopefully, he will recover quickly and will bear no permanent effects of this combat wound.
Please join me in sending good wishes for the speedy recovery of a fellow cav guy. Get well soon, Mike, and come home safely.Scridb filter