Fred Phelan graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1993 and served as an aircraft navigator flying RC-135 aircraft. His initial service culminated in 2002 over the skies of Afghanistan while serving as the 45th Expeditionary Squadron Operations Officer during Operation Ensuring Freedom.
Upon separating from active service in September 2002, Fred transitioned to the Air Force Reserves and deployed on three additional tours of duty over Iraq and Afghanistan flying C-130 aircraft. While assigned to the 746th Expeditionary Wing during Operation Iraqi Freedom, his aircraft was ambushed by rocket fire and a surface to air missile while departing on a mission from Bagdad, Iraq in April 2006. The explosions threw the aircraft into an uncontrolled altitude. His aircrew was able to safely recover the aircraft without any injuries to the troops on board; however, the realization of impending tragedy stayed with him long after the incident.
Fred realized the impact of his combat experiences and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). Through a daily routine of counseling and medical treatment, he was able to get back on his feet with a renewed confidence. Fred was able to put the past behind him and returned to Afghanistan for his fifth tour of duty to fly in combat again in 2009. Furthermore, to prepare for a career in the financial services industry, he earned an M.B.A. degree from Drexel University in June of 2010. As a member of the Wallstreet Warfighters Foundation, Fred’s desire is to gain exposure to the broad range of careers within the financial services industry. But more importantly, he hopes to serve as an example to other veterans who have suffered from PTSD and reassure them that it is not an end but yet another obstacle that can be overcome by reaching out for the help of others.
Major Phelan has 2,800 total flight hours with 456 combat flight hours. His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
Fred lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania with his wife Melissa, daughter Caroline, and son Nicholas.