The Congressional Medal of Honor came full circle for U.S. Army SGT Robert McPhelan about 140 years after he was recognized for his gallantry in action at Battle of Cedar Creek in Montana.
McPhelan wounded in action while in service during the Indian Conflicts through October of 1876 to January 1877. After his military service McPhelan was employed at Fort Leavenworth and in his late 40ies succumbed to his battle wounds Feb. 1, 1884, and was laid to rest in the Potter’s Field Section C near Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Lansing.
On June 4, McPhelan was posthumously honored and his gallantry honored for eternity when his remains were re-interred at the Leavenworth National Cemetery at Wadsworth, in Leavenworth.
Chaplain Floyd Sulivan, of the Wadsworth VA, delivered the message at the service. The recognition is now due for the military McPhelan’s service and sacrifice he gave.
“From Potter’s Field he is on Paradise Hill” Sullivan said adding McPhelan will now rest among heroes with the full military honors due to him.
Present for the service were McPhelan’s descendants, two great granddaughters, Lori Rogers and Erin Hiatt, and great-great granddaughter Rachel Hiatt, all reside in the Denver, Colorado area.
Col. Roger, Donlon, retired, a Medeal of Honor Recipent, was also present. Col. Donlon was the first to receive the Medal of Honor distinction from the Vietnam War.
The family members agreed they were overwhelmed with emotion to see patriots line the route as the funeral procession escorted by VFW Post 56, KS Patriot Guard, ALR Post 370, ALR Post 19 traveled from the Leintz Funeral Home to their ancestor’s final resting place. Veterans of military service, state and local dignitaries Wreaths Across America, DAR and Medal of Honor Historical Society representatives comprised the funeral entourage. The reinterment was made possible through the efforts of the organizations’ volunteer efforts.
Michelle Cebe, Wreaths Across America Volunteer Location Coordinator, Leavenworth National Cemetery, coordinated the event.
Rogers estimated it was within the past 10 years when they became aware of their ancestor and his lifetime even though his Medal of Honor has been lost through history.
“He’s been gone for over 100 years, but we love this man,” Rogers said. “We are so touched.”
McPhelan was born 1837 in Laois, Ireland. He immigrated to the United States with his wife Mary and joined the U.S. Army. McPhelan served with Company E, 5th U.S. Infantry serving with Col. Nelson Miles. He was engaged in the Indian Conflicts that included the Battle of Cedar Creek, which marked the surrender of Sitting Bull. General William T. Sherman presented McPhelan his Medal of Honor on July 18, 1877.
Within the past several years, volunteers of the historic military groups became aware of McPhelan and managed to locate his remains. The Leavenworth Chapter of the DAR paid respect to MCPhelan and his distinguished honor at his grave in Potter’s Field. His ancestors were present for the service. Rogers said it was at that time she commented that she wanted her great grandfather to have a more suitable eternal resting place. It was also later learned that McPhelan’s widow was laid to rest in St. Joseph, Missouri.