Chance R Phelps

Chance R Phelps

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U.S. Marines

People from Wyoming and Colorado gathered in the small mountain town of Dubois, Wyoming, to pay respects to native son and Marine Private First Class Chance Phelps, who was killed in Iraq. Chance’s funeral service was held in the high school gymnasium, the only building large enough to hold so many mourners. A horse-drawn wagon conveyed Chance’s body up the hill to the cemetery. Main Street was lined with people, and bagpipes played Amazing Grace.

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. I didn’t want to stop him, but my heart was just … you know, I think I always knew really that he probably wouldn’t come back.”

Mack said her son drew people to him with his humor. He had an unusual amount of zest. He just possessed this quality that he had to be in the thick of things all the time. He was very, very positive, very funny. His main thing in life was making people laugh.

The young man also loved to hunt and fish and spent summers with his father in Wyoming.  Chance was also the subject of a powerful HBO movie called “Taking Chance”.

Chance’s portrait is also on Poster 8


3 Responses to “Chance R Phelps”
  1. Sharon Ambrose says:

    I’ve just sat and watched “Taking Chance” for about the 16th time as its so very moving and should be watched and learned about by “all”. It certainly moves me beyond words.
    I admire hugely the respect shown to Chance on his journey coming home for the final time. I would be so proud to call myself an American citizen but sadly I am not, I am English. If only our British boys were honoured so respectfully wouldn’t this sad and cruel world be a kinder place..sadly its not the case and may be just as bad in other countries.
    Still.. Chance and his coming home journey will always now have a part in my heart. My thoughts go out to his family, I cannot imagine the pain they went through and no doubt still are to this very day.
    God bless you all and God bless you Chance. What a hero you are. XXXX

  2. Kevin Reese says:

    My interaction with Chance began the day we were bunked next to one another in bootcamp:
    In the middle of the night, after a long day of training and being slayed by our DIs, Chance tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Lets go f*** with Farmer! (A major screw up we had picked up from Charlie Company). Chance mimicked the voice of DI Sergeant Neal to a T and messed with Farmer for a good 20 minutes. Sgt Neal caught wind of it and came to see us in our racks and said, “That was some d*** funny s***; don’t ever f***ing do it again!” We acknowledged the order, carried on and graduated a few weeks later.
    I was in Korea when Chance was killed, I didn’t even find out until about April 20th; by that time, I was back in Okinawa. I came back to the states the following year. Two years later, I was at Sergeant’s Course in Quantico and ran into a Gunny who was with Chance the day he was killed – his recollection of that day chilled me to my core; that was the winter/spring of 2007. In 2009, I deployed to Afghanistan; while in the bazzar just outside our compound, I saw a hodgie copy of “Taking Chance” – I took it to my hooch, watched it, and bawled my eyes out, remembering my buddy from bootcamp. The next spring I was training in Yuma, AZ; I went to the head at the PX – I swear, as I was washing my hands and I saw Chance in the mirror, standing in the corner, grinning at me with that grin of his that says, “I know something you don’t know” and “you’re gonna be alright,” all at the same time.
    I live in South Dakota again, after 14 years away. I’ve always wanted to visit Chance, I’ve just never found the courage to go… I don’t even know what I’d say to his parents, whom I vaguely recall meeting on graduation day.
    Memorial Day weekend is when I remember my friend, Chance, the most; he was the kindest, funniest, and most dedicated Marine I ever had the pleasure of knowing (and I served for eight years); although I never served with him in the fleet, I went through hell with him at MCRD San Diego – that makes him my brother for eternity!
    God bless anyone who ever knew Chance, and may you find comfort in the brief story I’ve just shared. Semper Fidelis, Chance – Til Valhalla, brother!

  3. eherzberg says:

    Kevin – thank you for your thoughtful post. As a gold star father who lost his son, I do not expect my sons Marine Corps friends to know what to say. Just being there and sharing stories of your friend Chance that his parents have not heard before would be a special gift from you to them. BTW – my son is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. There is a middle school teacher from Michigan who organizes a trip every year for about 120 of his kids to Washington DC. Their first stop is at Arlington where they visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and my sons grave. They already know all about my son Eric because the teacher has put together a 3 day curriculum where they go to my son’s web site, research about him and write letters to him and my family. I mention this because the first day of the class, all 280 students watch “Taking Chance”. So they all know about him too. So in a way, my son Eric and your friend Chance are tied together forever now. I thought you might find it encouraging that your friend has had such an impact with his life. Thanks again for sharing this.

    Eric Herzberg

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