This writer was flipping through the television channels the other day, when I stopped on HBO, to take a look at what "Taking Chance" was all about. Well, gang, I found out pretty quick.
Taking Chance stars Kevin Bacon as Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a Marine veteran of the first Iraq war in 1991 who is now glued to a desk job. Strobl volunteers to become a "body" escort for a 19-year-old Marine killed in Iraq, Chance Phelps, from his hometown in Colorado. Strobl's commanding officer reminds him that an officer of his rank would not normally perform escort duty. Strobl, feeling guilt because he volunteered to stay at desk duty when his brigade went to Iraq, explains that it's something he needed to do.
Incidentally, this is a true story from the journal of the Colonel and produced by HBO.
The scenes begin: the soldier is placed in a body bag in Iraq, bagged ice is placed inside the aluminum transfer casket, and the casket is carefully placed in the troop carrier (along with a number of other caskets) with an American flag draped over the container. The carrier arrives at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where it is ceremoniously taken from the plane and delivered to a processing area. It is here that you watch as the body is cleaned and prepared for delivery to the escort officer (very carefully filmed). Every item belonging to the warrior is meticulously cleaned; medals are placed on the new marine dress uniform. No detail is overlooked. The escorts (a number of them going in different directions across the country) are briefed on the protocol of escorting the remains of a fallen soldier-his feet will at all times face forward, you will not discuss how he was killed and you will check the delivery tags when loading or unloading from any transport.
The movie moves along somberly to portray what an escort senses as he travels via a van, to an airliner, to a warehouse, to another smaller plane, and finally the final trip via a formal hearse to the funeral parlor in Wyoming (the family had moved from Colorado). Along the way, Strobl is recognized at the ticket counter as an "escort," and is up-graded to first class all the way. A flight attendant recognizes Strobl's uniform and knows what he is doing, and gives him a small silver cross. As the Colonel waits on the tarmac for his warrior to come off the plane, he meets another marine who is escorting the remains of another soldier (Noah Fleiss)-his brother. Everywhere the casket goes, it is treated with respect from the ground crews to the flying crew to the public.
After staying overnight in a warehouse, Strobl and his warrior are delivered to another tarmac, where the final flight to Wyoming will take place. The pilot of the airliner, a Viet Nam veteran (Gordon Clapp), greets the Colonel. As has happened all along the route, everyone stands still as the casket is loaded on the plane. Of course Strobl gives the slow salute (in honor of a fallen warrior) as he has done beginning with delivery of the casket at Dover.
When the plane lands in the small town, the pilot announces that they are carrying the body of an Iraq warrior, and would everyone please stay seated as the escort departs the plane.
The remainder of the movie is very dramatic, beautifully filmed and portrayed by the cast. The film was directed by Ross Katz, who also wrote the script along with Col Strobl (ret).
All I can say is this is a feel-good movie that will get to you in a few spots. It will make you happy, proud and sad all within 90 minutes. It is a story that has needed to be told. It is a story of war, but the unknown story of those who come home in a casket.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY...
F.I.O.R.E., the non-club, club, will hold its regular monthly, non-meeting, at the Italian American Club, Thursday, March 19, beginning at 11:30 a.m., with the non-member, non-gals invited to attend. The guest speaker will be President (all non-members are Presidents) Cork Proctor, who will present a preview of his one-man show. The price of admission ($20.00) gets you a show you would have to pay $100 to see on the Strip (and they feed you to boot). Proctor is one funny dude and he can insult you with the best...
Dianne Leonetti (a very nice and beautiful young lady) and her sister, Regina Rux, have written a book, "Today's Economic Crisis Survival Guide," about how to survive during the crises that is taking place in the United States, and elsewhere. It can be purchased and downloaded from the internet by going to www.todayseconomyguide.com, and the price is right, $10.95. Check out the Web site...
"Praise" is a show that celebrates the rural roots of gospel music, written by multi- Platinum and Grammy Award winning recording artist, Larry Hart. The show will be at the South Point Resort & Casino, Sunday, March 29th. at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for this World Premier event are reasonably priced from $25 to $35. The concert is being presented by Grant Griffin productions. More on this subject in two weeks...
The Indy 500 will honor the famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, during the run up to the race this year. They hope to have a red tailed Indy car in the race...
Well, gang, that's about it for this week.