4 Stars - Profound

As Americans grow weary of the wars in the Middle East the stories of real lives lost in battle become a fading memory.  “Taking Chance” brings the life of one of these young soldiers home in a profound and deeply emotional way.

Based on real-life events, Lt. Col. Michael Strobl (Kevin Bacon), a volunteer military escort officer, accompanies the body of 19-year-old Marine Chance Phelps back to his hometown of Dubois, Wyoming.  Written by the real Lt. Col. Strobl, the event occurred in 2004 as he accompanies Chance Phelps home after realizing they are both from the same home town, a small community with a population under 1,000 people.

Serving as a number cruncher for the military, in April of 2004 Lt. Col. Strobl was determining the replacement needs for the war following a buildup of casualties.  Even though Strobl had been a veteran of Desert Storm in 1991, he felt convicted by his own career choices to stay out of the current battles.  As he reviewed the list of casualties daily, he hoped that he would not see a name he recognized.  However, when he came across the all-too familiar listing of Chance Phelps, Strobl decided that he needed to personally make the journey to bring him home.

Each step of this story treats Pfc. Phelps with the utmost respect and dignity.  The people they encounter along the route home, from airline employees, to the people who prepared his body for delivery, to drivers along the road, each provide a snapshot of the respect for another human being that is often lost in midst of our everyday media-saturated images of people dying on TV.  The lessons learned by Lt. Col. Strobl give a very personal impression of the sacrifice that is being made by someone almost every day in this conflict.

How do you measure the life of another?  Is it based on what they accumulate, or is it based on what they give?  We all rise to the level of sacrificing at some point in our lives, and some do it daily.  But, it is the sacrificial giving of one’s life for another that has the deepest spiritual impact.

In the words of Mt. Col. Strobl, “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.”

Wars are always fought by our finest youth.  Because they had so much of their lives yet to live, our sense of loss is all the more difficult and their devotion all the more sacrificial. If every casualty had their story told to the public with the same degree of empathy that was given to Chance Phelps, it would be hard to imagine how we would survive the tears.


Discussion for those who have seen the film:

The decision by Strobl to accompany Phelp’s body back to their home town was compassionate.  How do you believe this act helped their home town to grieve?
When we bring home a fallen soldier it reminds us of the cost of war.  Do you believe such a film as this is helpful in bring an end to war? Why do you answer as you do?
The military honors being shown to the fallen of our present war is very different from the dishonor often demonstrated during the Vietnam War. What do you believe changed?

Posted on August 2, 2013 and filed under 4 STARS, PROFOUND.