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Fri, July 19

Family mourns fallen soldier

Kingman High School graduate Coty Phelps joined the Army in 2004 and had re-enlisted for four years one month prior to being killed in Iraq on May 17, according to his brother, Ryan Phelps. Courtesy

Kingman High School graduate Coty Phelps joined the Army in 2004 and had re-enlisted for four years one month prior to being killed in Iraq on May 17, according to his brother, Ryan Phelps. Courtesy

KINGMAN - A Kingman family is coping as best as it can after learning of the death of Coty Phelps in Iraq.

Phelps died when the Humvee in which he was riding struck a land mine in Iskandariya, Iraq, on May 17.

A closed casket funeral is planned for Phelps at 2 p.m. Sunday at First Assembly of God Church in Kingman. He will be accorded full military honors, according to his older brother, Ryan Phelps, 23.

Coty's remains are being cremated, he added.

His father, Robbie; and stepmother, Regina Phelps; another brother, Robbie, 13; and a sister, Trisha, 11; also survive Coty, who was 20.

Ryan Phelps said Coty was active in football and enjoyed chef Mike Gaul's culinary arts classes at KHS. He also played city league softball.

Coty was born in Lake Havasu City. The family moved to Kingman in January 1993, when Robbie Phelps accepted a job offer.

"It's unbelievable," Ryan Phelps said. "Coty never worried. He was proud to be a soldier."

Coty joined the Army in February 2004 through the Delayed Entry program. He graduated from KHS in May of that year and reported in September to Fort Jackson, S.C., for basic and advanced individual training.

He later completed Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to Headquarters Company, 725th Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Coty worked as a paralegal for the Judge Advocate General's Office for his unit. He was rated as a specialist at the time of his death and was promoted posthumously to corporal, Ryan Phelps said.

Two Army officers arrived at the family home in Kingman about 3 p.m. May 17 to deliver the tragic news of his death. Family members were so shaken the officers had to leave and a master sergeant returned the next day to provide what information could be released to the family, he said.

"(Brother) Robbie and Trisha are helping everyone keep their heads up right now," Ryan Phelps said. "They're being strong.

"It has been almost a week now, and we're all hurting, but we have a lot of family here helping us cope and handle things. We're doing OK, but still are really lost."

Teachers at Kingman High School found all the qualities they look for in a good student in Phelps.

"He was a high energy student and friendly," said Brent Potter, who taught world history and had Phelps as a student during his sophomore year.

"I had a hard time placing him somewhere because he would find someone to talk to all the time and was a happy-go-lucky kid. Social studies was not his favorite subject, but he definitely had an interest in it."

Phelps was a student for one semester in his junior year in Terry McCoy's vocational automotive class.

"He was an outstanding young man, who was very mature and I mean that in the sense of him using every bit of class time to learn as much as he could," McCoy said.

"This is a terrible loss to the family. Obviously, Coty is past pain, and the pain now rests with all of those that knew him."

Gaul had Phelps in culinary arts classes during his sophomore and senior years.

"He was a very quiet student and he helped me with a banquet or two," Gaul said. "He enjoyed the class and seemed well liked."

Phelps also was a student in a driver's education class taught by Shirley Henderson during his sophomore year.

"From what I can remember he was a very nice sophomore," Henderson said. "I feel so sorry for the family, and very proud of him for serving and honoring our country.

"I have a nephew who's a Marine over in Iraq right now, and my son's best friend is there, too, so my heart bleeds for Coty's family."


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