Sidney Phillips was born September 2, 1924, the younger brother of Katharine Phillips. His father, a teacher who became principal of Murphy High School in Mobile during the War, had been a 2nd lieutenant in the 145th Infantry in World War One, and had been wounded in the Argonne Forest. Phillips’ best friend growing up was Eugene B. Sledge.
Phillips graduated from high school in June of 1941 and went to work with the U.S. Engineers, carrying maps between departments while saving for college. On December 8, 1941, he was just 17 when he and a friend, W. O. Brown, enlisted in the Marines. After training, Phillips was assigned to H Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and taught to operate the 81 mm mortar.
In the spring of 1942 he went overseas -- first to New Zealand, and then, in August, to the Solomon Islands where he participated in the landings on Guadalcanal. Phillips survived four months of combat on the island and fought in many battles, including the Battle of the Tenaru.
Phillips and his unit were taken off Guadalcanal on December 22, l942 and eventually sent to Melbourne, Australia for rest and recovery. While on guard duty one night, he had occasion to meet Eleanor Roosevelt when she came to visit the troops. Towards the end of 1943 he was sent to New Guinea for training and then participated in the invasion of Cape Gloucester, on the western tip of New Britain. After several months of miserable fighting in the jungles there, he was sent to a rest camp on the island of Pavuvu. From there, in the summer of 1944, Phillips was rotated back to the United States and was accepted into the V-12 naval officer training program. He was still in training when the war ended, and was able to return to Mobile. He married Mary Houston, had 3 children, and became a family physician in his hometown.