Last Out is not an autobiography. But it is based on true stories of the men and women I served with, many of whom are no longer with us. This is a universal story to honor those who served in combat and the families we left behind.
Every story has a hero and this one is no different. Our hero in Last Out is Lynn Patton, Danny’s wife, the rock of the family, the military spouse. Lynn is inspired by Monty Mann, my wife who has been on this mission with me for over 24 years. Our military spouses are a national treasure and it’s time their story is told.
Danny’s best friend in the play is Major Kenny Suggins. The inspiration for this character came from my ‘Ranger Buddy’ Cliff Patterson who was killed in the Pentagon on 9-11. A picture of us at my Granny’s house on Christmas 1992 sits on the Wall of Honor during each performance.
Military life is hard on a family, especially the kids. Wondering if mom and dad are okay and if they are coming home is part of the everyday reality for our military kids, just like it was for my three sons. It’s bittersweet when they come to you quietly and say “I’m joining up,” as my oldest son Cody did.
Green Berets are masters at building relationships with indigenous people. Many people don’t realize just how closely we work with local tribes and clans around the world. Another hero in this story is Malik Jan, an Afghan tribal elder. This character is based on several real-world elders who mentored me through the years. So much wisdom and courage are contained within these quiet leaders.
Deployment hellos make you feel as if you’re walking on air and the goodbyes make you feel like you have a hockey stick stuck in your throat. At some point in this long war, you lose track of which side of the ocean you’re on and it all becomes a blur.
Stories, even the painful ones, heal the heart, our brains, our communities, and our nation.
Last Out is one of those stories – a story of love, honor, and letting go.