A 'Final Salute' to Fallen Marines "Never leave a Marine behind." That tradition began in 1775, and continues today via officers like Col. Steve Beck, whose job it is to notify families of the loss of a loved one. Beck — and the families he contacted — is the subject of journalist Jim Sheeler's book Final Salute. Sheeler (pictured) and Beck talk to Terry Gross about a duty that's both an honor and a burden.

A 'Final Salute' to Fallen Marines

A 'Final Salute' to Fallen Marines

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Journalist Jim Sheeler won a Pulitzer Prize for his series about Marine Colonel Steve Beck and the families of the fallen soldiers. Ellen Jaskol hide caption

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Ellen Jaskol

"Never leave a Marine behind." The tradition began in 1775, and continues today via officers like Marine Colonel Steve Beck, whose job it is to notify the families of the loss of a loved one.

Beck's mission, called "casualty notification," is one for which he received no training. It begins with a knock at the door, and continues through the funeral and beyond. It involves standing watch over the caskets of the fallen, comforting those left behind and, at times, choking down his own tears.

Sheeler and Beck join Fresh Air host Terry Gross for a conversation about a duty that's both an honor and a burden.

Journalist Jim Sheeler followed Beck for a year, writing about the experience in a Pulitzer Prize-winning Rocky Mountain News series. Sheeler's new book, Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives, is a continuation of the series.

Final Salute
A Story of Unfinished Lives
By Jim Sheeler

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Final Salute
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