Mark Patrick Phelan – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 1035-04
October16, 2004

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  They died on October 13, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their convoy vehicle.

Killed were:

Lieutenant Colonel Mark P. Phelan, 44, of Green Lane, Pennsylvania.  Phelan was assigned to the Army Reserve's 416th Civil Affairs Battalion, Morristown, Pennsylvania.

Major Charles R. Soltes, Jr., 36, of Irvine, California.  Soltes was assigned to the Army Reserve's 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, Upland, California.

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Upper Darby soldier killed in Iraq
20 October 2004

A funeral mass to commemorate an Upper Darby High School graduate killed in Iraq October 13, 2004 is scheduled for Friday.

U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Mark Phelan, 44, a member of the class of 1979 and former Drexel Hill resident, died after a convoy he was in was bombed coming out of Mosul, according to Upper Darby Principal Geoff Kramer.

Phelan was a reservist with the U.S. Army's Norristown based 416th Civil Affairs Battalion.

He spent 22 years in the reserve, volunteering for two tours of duty in Iraq. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Meritorious Service Medal, according to a report. Burial with full military honors is scheduled for October 26, 2004, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Upper Darby High School students paid their respects to Phelan with moment of silence yesterday morning.

Kramer, who said the school found out about the death Monday, described a solemn mood in the school after the commemoration in homeroom about 7:38 a.m.

“Afterwards, I think the kids were subdued because it really hits home,” said principal Geoff Kramer Tuesday evening. “As far as I know this is the first Upper Darby High School graduate to be killed in Iraq.”

Kramer, who has spent about 32 years at the high school, remembers he was a guidance counselor at Upper Darby when Phelan was a student.

“I remember him from the wrestling team,” recalls Kramer. “We had a pretty good team [in '79]. He was a contributor.

“He was a good student and well behaved.”

Phelan went to West Chester University and studied criminal justice.

Plaques have been erected in the high school to remember other alumni who have died while serving in the military. Plans on how to memorialize Phelan were unclear as of yesterday evening, Kramer said.

Phelan, whose home was in Green Lane, Pennsylvania, has a wife Brenda, and daughter April Klitsch. He and his wife owned Phelan Services Inc. and he was a manager at White Horse Village in Newtown Square.

“Mark will be remembered for his energetic spirit, love, loyalty, and devotion to family, friends, and country,” an obituary released from Scanlin Funeral Home stated.

Salford Township,Pennsylvania, resident and U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Mark Phelan, who was killed by a car bomb in Mosul, Iraq, last week, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, his wife said Tuesday.

Brenda Phelan said she was expecting to hear later in the day from military officials about arrangements for a military funeral and that plans for local services have not yet been finalized.

Colonel Phelan, who had completed a year's service in Iraq with the Norristown-based 416th Civil Affairs Battalion, had just returned to Iraq after volunteering to transfer to another Civil Affairs unit.

Before returning to Iraq, he spent his 44th birthday at home, with some of the time spent working on a barn for animals at the home in the Green Lane section of Salford where the couple has lived for almost nine years.

“We're very big on rescuing dogs. We've been rescuing dogs for years, and we just got a horse,” Brenda Phelan said.

The couple “always went to the SPCA and looked for the dog that needed a home the worst,” she said.

The horse was received after having previously been owned by a relative, she said.
“His (Colonel Phelan's) thing was sailing and mine was horseback riding and we always wanted to make each other's dreams come true, so we had a sailboat and a barn,” making it possible to house the horse, Brenda Phelan said.

While in Iraq, Phelan worked on business development projects, “rebuilding the infrastructure, getting people back to work,” his wife said.

“He was a team leader for the finance and economics team,” she said.

One of his achievements included helping start a business center, which is similar to a Chamber of Commerce, and offered services such as small business loans.

“The business center was a really big deal,” Brenda Phelan said.

“He loved what he was doing over there. He felt like we were doing the right thing,” Brenda Phelan said. She was “scared for him, but I supported him.”

The Phelans, who have been married for 12 years, owned and operated Phelan Services, Lansdale, which provides janitorial and other commercial services. Mark Phelan also was a manager at White Horse Village, a continuing care facility in Newtown Square.

Mark Phelan grew up in the Upper Darby area and worked for a year as a police officer in New Jersey after graduating from West Chester University in 1983.
The couple has a 22-year-old daughter.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Mourners recall leader who ‘loved his friends in the Army'

Lt. Col. Mark Phelan, 44, of Montgomery County, signed on to go back to Iraq. He died in a bombing.

By Christine Schiavo
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer

A picture of Lieutenant Colonel Mark Phelan, in uniform and smiling, greeted friends and family as they filed into St. Jude Catholic Church in Chalfont yesterday to celebrate more than to mourn his life.

“He was always up for a good time, always a lot of fun,” Andrew Adams of West Chester, a lifelong friend, said in one of five eulogies. “He always knew how to make me laugh.”

Colonel Phelan, 44, an Army reservist for 22 years who had served in Iraq with the Norristown-based 416th Civil Affairs Battalion, was killed when his convoy was bombed on October 13, 2004, in Mosul. He had returned to Iraq three days earlier from a two-week leave at home in Green Lane, Montgomery County, with his wife, Brenda, and their daughter, April.

Clutching a long-stemmed rose and her daughter's arm, Brenda Phelan left the church in tears yesterday as a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” and three fighter jets flew overhead.

By all accounts, Mark and Brenda Phelan were best friends. She did not stand in the way when he decided to return to Iraq for six more months.

The 416th recently was deactivated, but Colonel Phelan signed on with another civil affairs unit to continue helping small businesses.

“Mark had never been happier and more fulfilled,” an older brother, Michael, said at his funeral. “He believed in what he was doing.”

A lover of animals and the outdoors, Colonel Phelan was remembered as an ordinary man of extraordinary character. He was a unit leader who earned respect by leading through example.

“My friend Mark didn't say, ‘Go,' he said, ‘Let's go,'” Lieutenant Colonel Frank Piacine said. “He loved his friends in the Army, and we loved him back.”

Colonel Phelan grew up in Drexel Hill with three brothers and a sister. He graduated from Upper Darby High School in 1979 and West Chester University in 1983.

“Mark is my hero and an inspiration to me,” said a younger brother, Martin.

As a child, Colonel Phelan defended his younger brother against bullies who teased him for going bald from cancer treatments. As a young man, Colonel Phelan assumed the role of father to his wife's young daughter. As a soldier, he volunteered for service in the most dangerous part of the world.

Calling him a good man whose greatness came in leading a “decent and honorable life,” Piacine said, “We are better men and women for having known Mark Phelan.”

Colonel Phelan will be buried Tuesday with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 10/13/1980 – 10/13/2004
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/24/1960
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/13/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 10/26/2004






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