The Man


The Movie


The Understanding


PFC Chance Phelps

The Protector

The older kid wouldn’t stop picking on the little girl. Playground officials couldn’t be everywhere all the time and she was too small to protect herself.

It bothered Chance Phelps, then in second or third grade...

So one day, Chance grabbed the bigger kid at their elementary school in Craig, Colo. Phelps punched the bully in the face.

“It wasn’t probably the best way, but by golly he took care of it,” said his mom, Gretchen Mack.

Chance had a habit of protecting people. As a senior in high school in Grand Junction, Colo., he started walking a classmate to her car and to class when another guy wouldn’t leave her alone.

If he wanted to settle things, Chance told the guy, they could go somewhere and settle them.

“They didn’t have too many problems after that,” Gretchen said.

On April 9, 2004, the Marine returned from a several-day mission. It was Good Friday and he’d earned some time off, but another job came up in in Al Anbar.

He said he’d go.

Not far from camp, the lead Humvee in the convoy hit a roadside bomb. Gunfire raged. It was an ambush.

Chance’s Humvee was the last in the convoy. It drove to the front to fight.

Chance, 19, stood out of the top of his Humvee and laid down fire. Within the first few minutes, the Marines got the lead vehicle and guys out.

Then Chance was shot.

“Every single one of them have come to me and told me if Chance hadn’t done what he did, none of them would be there to talk about it,” Gretchen said.

Gen. John Kelly told her Chance could have ducked back down. No one would have blamed him.

But ducking back down wasn’t in Chance.

Chance’s body came back to Dubois, where his father had lived and his mother eventually moved.

He received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the combat “V” given for valor. He was promoted from private first class to lance corporal.

The little girl he saved on the playground sang at his funeral.


Born July 14, 1984 Riverton, Wyoming (1984-07-14)

Allegiance United States of America

Rank Lance Corporal (posthumous promotion)

Battles/wars Iraq War * Battle of Ramadi * Operation Vigilant Resolve

Died April 9, 2004, Ramadi, Iraq

Place of burial Dubois, Wyoming, United States


United States Marine Corps

Awards Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart



Marine Lance Cpl. Chance R. Phelps, right, shakes hands with Gunnery Sgt. Adam McDermott at Chance’s graduation. 



The Man

Lance Corporal

Marine Corps Pfc., posthumously promoted to Lance Corporal, Phelps was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. 

Phelps was shot while battling insurgents in Ramadi west of Baghdad. 

Chance moved to Colorado with his mother while still in grade school. He often came to Dubois, Wyoming in the summer to see his father. He attended high school in Craig, Colorado before transferring to Palisade, Colorado as a senior, graduating in 2003. 

While in school, he joined the football team, earned a letter and joined the Marine Corps. In joining the military he knew the dangers but he said he absolutely had to go – he had to do something. 

He was deployed to Iraq just over a month ago. Chance drew people to him with his humor. He was very positive, very funny and loved to make people laugh. He was the biggest and toughest kid in school, but he didn't throw his size around. Easy going and with a smile on his face is how fellow students remember him. He loved to hunt, fish and spend summers with his dad in Dubois. 

Chance was an artillery cannoneer and his unit was acting as provisional military police. He had volunteered to man a .50 caliber machine gun in the turret of the leading vehicle in a convoy. The convoy came under intense fire but Chance held his position and returned fire, covering the rest of the convoy until he was fatally wounded. 

When he was killed on Good Friday, he was wearing his Saint Christopher medal. After he came home, his casket was opened and there lay Pfc Chance Phelps in his immaculate dress blues wearing six ribbons over his marksmanship badge, including his Purple Heart. 

Now he is home and lies on a hill overlooking his town.

Bio by: Brenda N



Home Tribute 

The Movie


Actor Kevin Bacon


Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC


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.  




 Retired Lt. Col. Michael R. Strobl stands next to actor Kevin Bacon during a premier showing.  


Taking Chance is currently available on HBO DEMAND.

Chance Phelps, USMC, Iraq, April 2004


Iraq War


Photo courtesy of John Phelps, Chance's father, of Running Iron Studios in Dubois, Wyoming, who used Chance as the model for his WWII memorial. 

Fallen Heroes Project


Chance’s parents, Gretchen Mack and John Phelps explained that their son started talking about joining The Marines after the United States was attacked on September 11th.

 That just changed everything, said Gretchen Mack. He just told me,  “I got to go.” I couldn’t stop him...  


This is a video captured off the nightly news. 



Jennas Chance Phelps Tribute



Jennas Chance Phelps Tribute


The Understanding

Be their witness

COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine and WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Each year, millions of Americans come together to REMEMBER the fallen, HONOR those that serve and their families, and TEACH the next generation about the value of freedom. This gathering of individuals and communities takes place in local and national cemeteries in all 50 states as part of National Wreaths Across America Day. Each year, a new theme is chosen to help supporters focus their messaging and outreach in their own communities. Today, the national nonprofit announces the theme for 2018 is "Be their witness."


The inspiration for this year's theme stems from the 2009 drama "Taking Chance," which was based on the experiences of U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl, who escorted the body of a fallen Marine, PFC Chance Phelps back to his hometown in Wyoming from the Iraq War.

"I was deeply impacted by this story and found it difficult at times to fathom the burden this young man carried in his task. Lt. Col. Strobl volunteered to be a witness for PFC Phelps, and as the movie so eloquently states, he is now responsible in no small part for PFC Phelps's legacy," said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America. "Through the Wreaths Across America program, we are ensuring that the lives of our men and women in uniform are remembered, not their deaths. It is our responsibility as Americans, to be their witness and to share their stories of service and sacrifice with the next generation..."


"It is our responsibility as Americans, to be their witness and to share their stories of service and sacrifice with the next generation.