Saw this  military motivator on Blackfive    and thought I’d share…






All PGR Members and Soldiers Angels are invited to join the American Legion Riders and other Veterans Saturday night at Smith-Renolds American Legion Post 14 for a Pot Luck Dinner and a Movie…. ( TAKING CHANCE ) The address is 4607 NE St James Rd. Van, Wa 98663 Pot Luck: 5:30 – 7:30 PM Movie: Starts at 8:00 PM Sorry this is such a short notice, but we had to slap some big wheels around to put this together.. LOL The movie is about an officer that volunteers to escort a KIA marine home, for the funeral .  For more information read the article below…..inspiring and humbling to say the least. 


Taking Chance

Taking Chance




Taking Chance

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Michael Strobl          

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, outside the gates of the Marine base at Quantico, Va., wrote of his journey accompanying home the body of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq. (Tribune photo by Pete Souza)

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.

Over a year ago, I volunteered to escort the remains of Marines killed in Iraq should the need arise. The military provides a uniformed escort for all casualties to ensure they are delivered safely to the next of kin and are treated with dignity and respect along the way.

Thankfully, I hadn’t been called on to be an escort since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. The first few weeks of April, however, had been a tough month for the Marines. On the Monday after Easter I was reviewing Department of Defense press releases when I saw that a Private First Class Chance Phelps was killed in action outside of Baghdad. The press release listed his hometown–the same town I’m from. I notified our Battalion adjutant and told him that, should the duty to escort PFC Phelps fall to our Battalion, I would take him.

I didn’t hear back the rest of Monday and all day Tuesday until 1800. The Battalion duty NCO called my cell phone and said I needed to be ready to leave for Dover Air Force Base at 1900 in order to escort the remains of PFC Phelps.

Before leaving for Dover I called the major who had the task of informing Phelps’s parents of his death. The major said the funeral was going to be in Dubois, Wyoming. (It turned out that PFC Phelps only lived in my hometown for his senior year of high school.) I had never been to Wyoming and had never heard of Dubois.

With two other escorts from Quantico, I got to Dover AFB at 2330 on Tuesday night. First thing on Wednesday we reported to the mortuary at the base. In the escort lounge there were about half a dozen Army soldiers and about an equal number of Marines waiting to meet up with “their” remains for departure. PFC Phelps was not ready, however, and I was told to come back on Thursday. Now, at Dover with nothing to do and a solemn mission ahead, I began to get depressed.

I was wondering about Chance Phelps. I didn’t know anything about him; not even what he looked like. I wondered about his family and what it would be like to meet them. I did pushups in my room until I couldn’t do any more. On Thursday morning I reported back to the mortuary. This time there was a new group of Army escorts and a couple of the Marines who had been there Wednesday. There was also an Air Force captain there to escort his brother home to San Diego.

We received a brief covering our duties, the proper handling of the remains, the procedures for draping a flag over a casket, and of course, the paperwork attendant to our task. We were shown pictures of the shipping container and told that each one contained, in addition to the casket, a flag. I was given an extra flag since Phelps’s parents were divorced. This way they would each get one. I didn’t like the idea of stuffing the flag into my luggage but I couldn’t see carrying a large flag, folded for presentation to the next of kin, through an airport while in my Alpha uniform. It barely fit into my suitcase.

It turned out that I was the last escort to leave on Thursday. This meant that I repeatedly got to participate in the small ceremonies that mark all departures from the Dover AFB mortuary.

Most of the remains are taken from Dover AFB by hearse to the airport in Philadelphia for air transport to their final destination. When the remains of a service member are loaded onto a hearse and ready to leave the Dover mortuary, there is an announcement made over the building’s intercom system. With the announcement, all service members working at the mortuary, regardless of service branch, stop work and form up along the driveway to render a slow ceremonial salute as the hearse departs.

Escorts also participated in each formation until it was their time to leave. On this day there were some civilian workers doing construction on the mortuary grounds. As each hearse passed, they would stop working and place their hard hats over their hearts. This was my first sign that my mission with PFC Phelps was larger than the Marine Corps and that his family and friends were not grieving alone.

Eventually I was the last escort remaining in the lounge. The Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant in charge of the Marine liaison there came to see me. He had Chance Phelps’s personal effects. He removed each item; a large watch, a wooden cross with a lanyard, two loose dog tags, two dog tags on a chain, and a Saint Christopher medal on a silver chain. Although we had been briefed that we might be carrying some personal effects of the deceased, this set me aback. Holding his personal effects, I was starting to get to know Chance Phelps.

Finally we were ready. I grabbed my bags and went outside. I was somewhat startled when I saw the shipping container, loaded three-quarters of the way in to the back of a black Chevy Suburban that had been modified to carry such cargo. This was the first time I saw my “cargo” and I was surprised at how large the shipping container was. The Master Gunnery Sergeant and I verified that the name on the container was Phelps’s then they pushed him the rest of the way in and we left. Now it was PFC Chance Phelps’s turn to receive the military–and construction workers’–honors. He was finally moving towards home.

As I chatted with the driver on the hour-long trip to Philadelphia, it became clear that he considered it an honor to be able to contribute in getting Chance home. He offered his sympathy to the family. I was glad to finally be moving yet apprehensive about what things would be like at the airport. I didn’t want this package to be treated like ordinary cargo, but I knew that the simple logistics of moving around a box this large would have to overrule my preferences.

When we got to the Northwest Airlines cargo terminal at the Philadelphia airport, the cargo handler and hearse driver pulled the shipping container onto a loading bay while I stood to the side and executed a slow salute.

Once Chance was safely in the cargo area, and I was satisfied that he would be treated with due care and respect, the hearse driver drove me over to the passenger terminal and dropped me off.

As I walked up to the ticketing counter in my uniform, a Northwest employee started to ask me if I knew how to use the automated boarding pass dispenser. Before she could finish another ticketing agent interrupted her.

He told me to go straight to the counter then explained to the woman that I was a military escort. She seemed embarrassed. The woman behind the counter already had tears in her eyes as I was pulling out my government travel voucher. She struggled to find words but managed to express her sympathy for the family and thank me for my service. She upgraded my ticket to first class.

After clearing security, I was met by another Northwest Airline employee at the gate. She told me a representative from cargo would be up to take me down to the tarmac to observe the movement and loading of PFC Phelps. I hadn’t really told any of them what my mission was but they all knew. When the man from the cargo crew met me, he, too, struggled for words.

On the tarmac, he told me stories of his childhood as a military brat and repeatedly told me that he was sorry for my loss. I was starting to understand that, even here in Philadelphia, far away from Chance’s hometown, people were mourning with his family…..

Follow the links for the rest of the story……..




Operation Valentine is now complete thanks to Oregon  Soldiers’ Angels and their communities coming together to send love and support to Veterans during the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week.  Thank you to all the Valentine makers and Delivery Angels!  


Soldiers’ Angels  Nike sent in this note about her day spent with the Veterans at the Oregon Veteran’s Home in  The Dalles Oregon.  


“My husband and I had a wonderful time at the Oregon Veteran’s Home yesterday. Have you been out there? It’s a really nice facility with four identical wings (one of which is dedicated to Alheimer and dementia veterans). Brenda called me to tell me there were 151 beds, not 501. 150 was far more manageable. =)

We passed out cards and fruit snacks and visited with several of the veterans. Most of them were quite talkative and several had grown up in the area so told us stories about building the bridges and working in the cherry orchards. One woman was from Apple Valley in California, which is where my husband grew up. It’s a really tiny area that even people in Cali are unfamiliar with, so they swapped stories about the area and what they had in common. She used to work at the senior center that was around the corner from the church my father-in-law pastored for several years.

I was wearing my Soldiers’ Angels t-shirt, which proved to be a good conversation starter and everyone was interested in hearing about the organization and what we stand for. We really hit it off with a few of the veterans and hope to visit them again sometime soon. I’ve attached a picture my husband took (we were so caught up with visiting we only took one picture!) of the cookie decorating. Counterclockwise from the bottom right: Gary, activity assistant Rebecca, Ruth, Nike, Keith, Activity Director Ken, Jim, and I have forgotten the final woman’s name.


Soldiers Angels Nike & Husband visiting at the Oregon Veterans Home

Soldiers' Angels Nike & Husband visiting at the Oregon Veteran's Home

Valentine Poem for Veterans…thank you Elda



I will not forget…. 

You spilled your blood on distant sands,

Endured enemies on hostile lands,

You held our freedom in your hands,

Yet so many still don’t understand! 

The sacrifice that you have made,

Wounds that never seem to fade,

Painful memories with you stay.

The costly price you had to pay! 

Too many have been laid to rest,

They are among our very best,

Brave soldiers passed the test,

For you, we are so blessed! 

Past and present, young and old,

So many stories left untold,

Your lives, worth more than gold,

May our freedom not be sold! 

Forgotten you will never be,

For this American can see,

The high cost of liberty,

The price you paid for me! 

For in my heart it’s set,

I am in your debt,

Even though we have never met,

I will not forget! 


To all Veterans, written by

Elda Clevenger

Dexter, Oregon

February 10, 2009 


Wishing you a nice Valentine’s Day 


If  you can help make Valentines for this very Special Delivery to our Veterans, contact Julie   soldiersangelsoregon@gmail.com    We’d love to see every VA and VA facility in the State  of Oregon receive some Love!



Welcome to the Soldiers’ Angels Oregon State Blog

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