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Mike Phipps '75

Mike Phipps passed on Dec. 17, 2020 from complications of a stroke.

His obit in the Gettysburg Times describes a life spent in harm’s way that would be foreign to most of us. (The notable exception here would be retired four-star general John Nicholson, the longest-serving American commander in the Afghan War, who, per Wiki, is teaching leadership at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School.)

After graduating from Johns Hopkins, Mike served in the military, both as a reservist and an active duty officer. His military career included three separate tours in Iraq with the 109th Infantry Regiment and the 5th United States Cavalry Regiment (“The Black Knights”) of the famed 1st Cavalry Division. He was severely wounded in action and was awarded the Purple Heart. Mike also served as a Baltimore Police Officer and was, for many years, a Licensed Battlefield Guide at the Gettysburg National Military.

Mike was, per the Gettysburg paper, a gifted public speaker and author. If my Google surfing can be trusted, he wrote a short book about one of the Union heroes at Gettysburg, Brigadier General John Buford, “The Devil’s to Pay”: General John Buford, USA. (You can buy a copy on Amazon; I just did.) Buford played a key role on the first day of the battle, staking out the high ground that allowed the Union troops to hold off General Lee’s numerically superior Confederate forces. I’ve toured the battlefield a couple of times. I wish I’d heard Mike lecture about it.

What most of us remember about Mike was that he was a hell of a basketball player. This from Brian Benninghoff: “Mike Phipps was a good guy. He had a really sly sense of humor, a kind of cool elegance in the way he acted and dressed, and he lived and breathed basketball, approaching it like a Ph.D. student tackles their subject. We were lucky to have him in our class.”

reported by Joe Hooper '75


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