In April, 2004, casualties mount in Iraq. At Quantico, choices focus on increasing troop strength or only replacing casualties. Lt. Col. Mike Strobl crunches numbers. Stung by his superior's rejection of his recommendation because he lacks recent combat experience, Strobl volunteers for escort duty, accompanying the remains Pfc. Chance Phelps, killed at 19. From Dover to Philadelphia by hearse, from there to Minneapolis and on to Billings by plane, and then by car to Phelps' Wyoming home - person after person pays respects. Kind words, small gifts, and gratitude are given Strobl to deliver to the family on this soul-searching journey. What are his own discoveries? Written by
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LTCol Mike Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran, says he decided against another combat tour largely because of his young family. But he was conflicted, and joined the many military personnel who volunteered for escort duty as Iraqi war deaths escalated. Strobl's week-long trip accompanying Phelps' body from a Delaware military mortuary to burial in Wyoming provides Taking Chance's poignant emotional context. Strobl shared his 20-page journal of the trip with friends and co-workers, and it eventually spread virally to military blogs and the media. It was quickly green-lit for filming after surfacing at HBO, which has become a major outlet for war-related programming both documentary and dramatized, with miniseries and films such as Generation Kill; Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq; Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery; and Last Letters Home: Voices of American Troops From the Battlefields of Iraq. See more
In the parking lot where the funeral is to take place, Lt. Col. Strobl is driving a vehicle with a Montana "57 county" license plate. There are no 57 county plates in Montana as the state only has 56 counties. See more
LtCol Mike Strobl
Chance Phelps was wearing his St. Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I watched them carry him the final fifteen yards. I felt that as long as he was still moving, he was somehow still alive. When they put him down in his grave, he'd stopped moving. I didn't know Chance Phelps before he died. But today, I miss him.
Take The Highway
Written by Toy Caldwell
Performed by The Marshall Tucker Band
By Arrangement with Natural Energy Lab See more