In April 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, came across the name of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a young Marine who had been killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province,
Witnessing the spontaneous outpouring of support and respect for the fallen Marine - from the groundskeepers he passed along the road to the cargo handlers at the airport - Strobl was moved to capture the experience in his personal journal. His first-person account, which began as an official trip report, gives an insight into the military's policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties. The story became an Internet phenomenon when it was widely circulated throughout the military community and eventually reached the mainstream media.
'Taking Chance' chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across the country, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home. A uniquely non-political film about the war in
My older sister, a retired Army nurse sent me LTC Strobl's article in August 2004, about 2 months after my son 1Lt Ken Ballard was killed. She had seen the story in April 2004 when it was first posted on the internet but she saved it to show me after Ken returned from
When Ken's body was returned to San Francisco airport on that awful day in June 2004, the civilian airline employees & TSA employees stood in silence with their hats respectfully removed as they watched his flag covered casket being offloaded from the plane and loaded into the hearse, just as the trailer shows. Ken's personal effects, his dog tags, his Cavalry spurs and his unit belt buckle were given to me when we arrived at our hometown, just as the journal describes. I imagine the rest of the journey of Ken's escort officer paralleled that of LTC Strobl. When you watch this film, remember that this isn't Hollywood; this honorable and difficult journey has taken place in the United States nearly 5000 times since October 2001.
Thanks to HBO, Kevin Bacon, Brad Krevoy, Cathy Wischer-Sola, William Teitler, Lori Keith Douglas, Ross Katz, and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl for their part in making this film and for understanding that this is a story that needs to be told. Special thanks to Chance’s family for allowing the story to be told and for letting the country share in your grief.
Special thoughts to the nearly 5000 families and the brave men and women who perform the duties of an Escort officer. Thank you for taking care of our loved ones.