“Taking Chance”

“Taking Chance” has been made into a movie.

If you don’t already know about it, please, click that link and set aside 15 minutes to read the amazing, moving, true story, about the journey across the country, back to Wyoming, to deliver the body of PFC Chance Phelps to his family and bury him in his hometown. The original version of this story is a letter written by Lt. Col. Strobl and published at blackfive.net in April 2004. It is, truly, one of the most moving tales I have ever read.

All along the route, every single person that LTC Strobl encounters, from pilots to flight attendants to cargo crew to hearse drivers, go out of their way to pay respect in simple yet moving ways. They do this with no glare of camera lights, and no journalists scribbling notes. LTC Strobl asks for nothing, yet they all do it, because it is so right, and natural; they can’t imagine not doing it.

It’s a story that captures the real America, the one that shows humility, and honor, and respect for the sacrifices of others on its behalf. It’s the America that, sadly, Hollywood prefers to mostly ignore, by not telling any of the reaffirming stories these last few years. Maybe they’ll get this one right. All they have to do is tell a great human story with deferential respect; just get out of the way and let the story tell itself.

Like I wrote in my comment at Dirty Harry’s Place:

I really, really hope the film version of “Taking Chance” tells this story straight without embellishing it in any way. It sure doesn’t need any; the story is powerful and moving exactly as originally posted at blackfive.net, where I read it in 2004.

The fact that Kevin Bacon is in it seems like a good sign to me. I’ve never gotten any kind of anti-military vibe from him, and he played a JAG in “A Few Honest Men”, straight up. He seems like good people.

I think we owe it to the memory of Chance Phelps, and LTC Strobl, to give it a fair shot.

IF this movie is done right — and that’s a big IF — it has a chance to resonate, and maybe even to be a big hit, because there is lots of pent-up demand for movies that do not spit in the face of the military by marginalizing the value of honor, valor, and sacrifice. What a concept!

The movie trailer looks very promising. It airs on HBO in February, and at Sundance later this month.


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