Like many veterans of his era, Sgt. Steve Maharidge never talked about “the good war.” On the surface, the Maharidges were a normal working-class family in the suburbs of Cleveland. But behind closed doors, even the most mundane moments could trigger Steve’s violent, traumatic episodes, which left his son Dale searching for clues to his past. And yet, there was only one: a black-and-white photograph of Steve with another soldier that hung permanently on the wall in the basement.
In The Dead Drink First, Dale Maharidge, now a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist, recounts his 18-year quest to learn everything he could about the man in the photo with the hopes of discovering a side of his late father he never knew. The result was something Dale never expected: Not only would he learn the man’s name – Herman Walter Mulligan – but he would help locate his remains and ultimately bring him home 74 years after he was killed in action.
In this deeply personal audio documentary, Dale retraces his journey through never-before-heard conversations with WWII veterans, their children, and the team of strangers that assembled to find Mulligan and bury him on American soil. In an epic search for a lost Marine, Dale finds forgiveness, lifelong friendships, and uncovers the rich, uniquely American truth about how and why we repatriate our fallen soldiers.
Please note: This story features explicit language and references to domestic abuse, violence, and war that may be upsetting to some listeners. Discretion is advised.