I’ve just had the opportunity to see HBO Films’ TAKING CHANCE before its air date of February 21st. And I’m at a loss for words.
The film is based on the true story of Marine Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl volunteering for escort duty to take home the remains of 19-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Chance Phelps.
During this overwhelming experience Lt. Colonel Strobl wrote a journal account of his escort duty. This account originally circulated via the internet, and I remember reading the account with tissues clutched in my hands. So I was prepared with an entire box of tissues for watching the film.
The film’s director Ross Katz wrote the screenplay with Michael Strobl, who is now retired from the Marine Corps, while Kevin Bacon played Lt. Colonel Strobl.
Kevin Bacon says very few words in the entire film. Yet he conveys with the minutest of facial expressions his own turbulent emotions throughout his escort duty.
The respect that Americans showed Lt. Colonel Strobl and the remains of Chance Phelps throughout the trip from Dover to Philadelphia to Minneapolis to Billings, Montana, to Dubois, Wyoming, is a compelling reminder that Americans are grateful for the sacrifices made by young men and women serving their country.
And to see the reverence afforded to the remains of fallen military personnel by the people at the Dover Port Mortuary is an incredibly moving testament to the sanctity of every person’s life.
Ross Katz, Michael Strobl and Kevin Bacon, plus all the other people who worked on this film, created a dignified tribute. You must see what they have wrought to honor our military personnel -- as well as to honor grateful Americans.
Here are Lt. Colonel Strobl’s own words:
Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I didn’t know Chance before he died. Today, I miss him.