"It’s all part of a tradition that started in 1775: Never leave a Marine behind (Sheeler, 2005)." Quickly thumbing through the September/October 2008 issue of American Photo, the bottom-half of page 14 prompted a double-take for me—a single composition from Todd Heisler’s photo gallery “Final Salute”. Although I continue to see images that are striking, my mind keeps coming back to this one and wondering, “What is this Marine’s story?” In 21 emotionally charged photographs, Heisler delves further into this goodbye creating a transparent intimacy from viewer to family:
Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler spent a year with the Marines stationed at Aurora’s Buckley Air Force Base who have found themselves called upon to notify families of the deaths of their sons in Iraq. In each case in this story, the families agreed to let Sheeler and Heisler chronicle their loss and grief. They wanted people to know their sons, the men and women who brought them home, and the bond of traditions more than 200 years old that unite them (Sheeler, 2005).