I watched a movie called “Taking Chance” one evening at home. There was one sentence spoken by a former Marine that seemed to be the ‘one-line’ that everything hung on.
In Braveheart, William Wallace said the stunning one-liner, “While you are all fighting over the scraps from Longshanks table, as to who is getting which Manor, – I will be taking England”. At the time I first saw Braveheart that sentence was captivating. When one loses site of ultimate purpose one becomes inward focused and self centered.
So what was it? From the film: “Taking Chance”.
A Marine PFC Chance Phelps was killed by an IED: “PFC Phelps was killed; apparently in the firefight following the IED attack on their convoy, in which PFC Phelps was the gunner on a machine gun and was able to draw the focus of much of the enemy fire, allowing for his comrades to safely find cover for themselves”.
Normally the rank of a sergeant would “escort” the coffin of a deceased Marine to the place of rest, in his home town, among relatives. No Marine ever being left alone.
Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, USMC; volunteered to take him home. He escorted the body of a fallen Marine, PFC Chance Phelps (posthumously promoted to LCpl), back to his hometown from the Iraq War. Every time the coffin moved: from the Marine base to a vehicle, to an aircraft, to a hearse, to the grave; the Lt.Col, in full uniform would stand alone and slow salute the coffin, in honour of who Phelps was – a marine, a soldier giving his all for a nation he loved. Marine honouring Marine. At no time was the coffin more than 20 feet from the Lt. Col.
A memorial event is held at the local VFW, to which Lt. Col. Strobl was invited: he, local veterans, along with PFC Phelps’s sergeant (who was with him when he was killed), and others, all welcome Lt. Col. Strobl with sincere gratitude for “bringing Chance home.” Lt. Col. Strobl remarks to the U.S. Marine 1st. Division Korean War veteran who first introduced himself at the bar, that he was eligible for a tour of duty in Iraq himself, but instead “got used to the sight of his wife and kids” and put in an application for an office tour instead, which was granted. Even though Lt. Col Strobl is a recipient of the Marine Combat Action Ribbon from his service in the First Gulf War, he feels somewhat ashamed of his actions, to which the Korean War veteran reminds him that there is no shame in loving his family, and that he is not any less of a Marine than PFC Phelps or his sergeant or any of the other men serving in combat in Iraq, because now, he is a witness for PFC Phelps, having served this escort mission, and he is now responsible in no small part for PFC Phelps’s legacy. This is the sentence that gripped my attention:
“Without a witness it just disappears… You are the witness.”
A WITNESS. As Jesus said ‘you shall be My witnesses’.
We honor our King and make sure every time the Lord moves we do not slow salute but execute His will on earth because He is beyond the tomb.
Finally the parents were presented with the flag:
“On behalf of the President, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation…as you gave your son to the Marine corp, we give the flag in memory of him. Thank you for your son”.
The Lt. Col. was the last one to leave the grave site after giving the last slow salute, he has done his escort … witness … and now could go home – out of uniform.
SIR! MADAM! Until Jesus comes, the church will remain in uniform, clothed in power, until He comes!