Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 16, 2009

Taking Chance

When one falls, another brings him home.



I met Josiah Vandertulip when I served on staff at Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. Josiah and several other high school seniors were guests in our home during a student discipleship weekend. I remember talking with him about King Josiah, the brave king who instituted much-needed reforms in Judah. Like his namesake, Josiah was also a brave young man. He joined the military and volunteered to fight in Iraq, hoping that his service might keep some husband or father from having to go to war. On October 14, 2004, his patrol came under enemy fire in Baghdad and 21-year-old Josiah was killed. Several days later I went to the funeral home and stood silently before the open casket holding Josiah’s remains. Tears welled up in my eyes and my throat tightened as I reflected on Josiah’s selfless commitment and personal sacrifice. Josiah’s funeral service was held in the courtyard of the church where he was given full-military honors. And, his name is now inscribed in a monument at Irving’s Veterans Memorial Park along with the names of other Irving residents who gave their lives in service to our country.

Until recently, I had absolutely no idea of the steps the military takes to return the remains of our fallen soldiers to their families. However, that changed last week after I watched Taking Chance, a movie recommended by a friend. In this movie based on actual events, Kevin Bacon portrays Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, who volunteered to escort the remains of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps to his family in Dubois, Wyoming. Chance was killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq in April 2004. The film gives a behind-the-scenes and intimate look at how a uniformed escort accompanies a fallen hero home to ensure that the remains are treated with the utmost dignity and respect along the way. This movie touched me deeply. I could not hold back my tears as I watched it.

I don’t know who escorted Josiah’s remains home to his family in Irving, but I have a new understanding of what that journey was like. I hope that you will watch Taking Chance before Memorial Day. This movie will give you a new understanding of and appreciation for the honor shown to those who have lost their lives in the service of our country. To learn more about the movie, please visit Taking Chance online or The Chance Phelps Foundation website to see the movie’s trailer and related video clips.


  1. Thanks for the post. I guess that, I have learned a little bit about a man who has given His life for serving his country. I think that, here I have not found a lot of informations about this soldier. but I guess that, it was a great sacrifice to give life willingly for the country!


  2. Omar,
    Someone within the military community told me of the funeral for this young man and I attended in the Navy dress blue uniform to honor his service to our nation. I recall several other officers and enlisted from the DFW metroplex military community attended wearing their dress uniform or battle dress uniform.

    I have a friend, Chief Jeffrey Snell, USN, who has given thousands of hours of time to properly lay young men such as Josiah to rest in cemeteries across Texas.

    Yes, we never forget our own. Our traditions are strong in life, and they bind us together in death too.


  3. I have not heard of this movie until now. Because of your blog I can assure you that those at FBC Damon will hear about the selfless sacrifice of Josiah and will have a deeper appreciation for what our soldiers endure for the sake of freedom.

  4. Omar,
    When I read the story of this young man selflessly laying down his life for his country, it takes my mind to Calvary to one who also laid down His life not just for a country but for the entire world, and how we to must in return lay our lives down for Him. In my Country we don’t understand much about war because we have never been in a war, but I understand sacrifice, and that is what Jesus did for us on Calvary. To the family of Josiah our prayers are with you. Be blessed.

  5. Roddie…

    Good to hear from you, my friend. Thank you for your insightful comment. Please give my regards to your family and to our friends in Trinidad.


  6. Dear Omar,

    You have experienced first hand what I have only known from information on the news. This movie gave me a deeper appreciation for those who risk their lives for our freedom, and those who escort them home.

    My dear Daddy was career Air Force, but I had no idea how caring our military is with our fallen soldiers. I am grateful to HBO for putting out such a quality film.

    I am glad to learn of this blog. I shall visit often. Give my love to Cheryl. We appreciate you both so much.

  7. Hi Linda…

    Great to hear from you. Thanks for your comment. I too, am grateful to HBO for putting out this very moving story about Chance.

    Please give my regards to Jag and the boys. We love you and are thankful to God for allowing our paths to cross and our friendship to continue across the years and the miles.


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