Movie Details Fallen Marine's Journey Home

Sunday, March 1st 2009, 4:52 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The story of a fallen Marine's journey back home has made its way to the big screen.

The volunteer escort charged with getting a 19-year-old Marine to his family has adapted his story into a screenplay.

The movie "Taking Chance" shows what it's like to escort a military casket, using the real life story of Lance Cpl. Chance Phelps, who died in Iraq.

Chance's dad, John Phelps, is an award-winning artist who came to Tulsa to showcase his work at an art show. He says the movie changed his life.

"I cried all the way through it," he said. "It was rough."

The concept for the movie started as paperwork, a log Lt. Col. Michael Strobl filled out as he escorted the body of teenager Chance Phelps five years ago.

It became a personal essay, a narrative of the trip to Cpl. Phelps' home in Wyoming.

It grew into a big-screen movie, playing at the Sundance Festival and on HBO.

But at its core, it's about how no one is left behind and about that final escort home.

"Of all our fallen in Iraq, or actually in any war, you can almost insert that name in place of Chance's name, and it actually tells that story, a story that lots of Americans have not seen," John Phelps said.

He says he misses his son every day.

"He was a great athlete, a very funny person, a great comrade to his family and to his fellow servicemen," his dad said. "And he's gone."

Phelps says the movie isn't political. It's about how drivers react upon seeing the casket, or how busy airports come to a complete stop.

"Regardless of how you feel about the war, this is a part of it," John Phelps said. "There are sacrifices being made for our freedom every day."

He says watching the movie is bittersweet.

"He was highly decorated for his actions, but he's not here," he said.

But the film honors Chance's legacy and the legacies of all soldiers who give the ultimate sacrifice.

The movie "Taking Chance," starring Kevin Bacon as Strobl, is playing on HBO.

Read Lt. Col. Strobl's original essay.