While most in America are sharing in holiday cheer this season with family and friends, the son of a Le Mars man will be at the center of the fight against terror.
A few hundred miles from the war zone in Iraq, Air Force Airman 1st Class Steven Phelps, son of Steve Phelps of Le Mars, is helping keep American soldiers off dangerous Iraqi convey routes that are plagued with roadside bombs and sniper attacks.
Phelps assists in the movement of critical supplies via Air Force C-17 cargo airplanes that can land at remote locations in Iraq, close to American soldiers.
"My job is to ensure that every aircraft has the material it needs to get the job done," says Phelps, an air transportation specialist serving with the 728th Air Mobility Squadron. "I make sure the troops get to where they need to be."
Airmen can move cargo off civilian 747 airplanes that land here from the U.S. and reload the cargo into the tactical C-17 airplane. By flying critically needed cargo directly to American camps in Iraq, supply truck convoys driven by American soldiers over dangerous Iraqi roads are greatly reduced.
Phelps understands this work is of great importance in helping save American lives in Iraq.
"The most direct impact I have on the global war on terror," he says, "is to expedite the aircraft here, for the movement of troops and cargo destined for the war zone."
Phelps has been serving in the Air Force for one year. Although he now lives in a mostly dry Mediterranean Middle Eastern country known for its marble-laid mosques, gold, textiles and lamb meat, he'll be thinking about home during the holidays.
The biggest thing that I'll miss during the holidays," Phelps says, "is seeing all of my family and being able to play around in the snow. I plan on celebrating the holidays here with a small group of friends who have become like family to me."