Inspiration for my stories comes from so many sources, but the people I know and meet remain my biggest inspirations. Here are a few folks who have inspired my characters. (More forthcoming—I’m having to twist a few arms).
I’ve discovered two new heroes who deserve recognition. Meet former Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalván and his incredible service dog, Tuesday. Luis gave 17 years of service to the U.S. Army, earning the Combat Action Badge, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart. While commanding a unit at the Iraqi and Syrian border, he sustained injuries that left him physically debilitated. The hyper vigilance required in wartime also left him with PTSD so severe that after his severance with the military, he found himself in a downward spiral, one that was only curtailed by the introduction of Tuesday, a service dog who offered Luis companionship, devotion, physical and moral support. Even in his darkest hours, Luis used his skill as a writer to advocate for veterans. In his NY Times Bestselling autobiography, UNTIL TUESDAY, he recounts his perilous experience of war, the psychological trauma that it inflicted, and his slow and steady rehabilitation, thanks to Tuesday. Luis and Tuesday are my newest heroes because they work tirelessly to reach out to veterans in need of assistance. God bless you both!
Please take time to visit Betty Neilsen's website at www.freedomquilts.net . Betty and I share a similar mission, to honor our fighting men in our own unique ways. She helps grieving families make quilts to honor their soldiers. She made one for Danny Deitz's family, one of the three SEALs to whom I dedicated NEXT TO DIE.
MY REAL-LIFE HERO--husband, father, lover, friend.
What makes a man a hero? It helps that he’s easy on the eyes (believe me, ladies, bald is better), but his generous spirit sets him apart. Alan is always the first to extend a helping hand. He can do anything, fix anything, take on any challenge and come out on top. He’s the kind of man who walks on the curb so you can have the safety of the sidewalk. He can back up a boat trailer without getting flustered. He never forgets a birthday or an anniversary. He can fix anyone’s computer--remotely. But most heroic of all, he took in my two sons who’d lost their father to an accident, and he does his best for them, not to mention the other four kids we have. You’d never guess his own tragic history by what Alan has made of himself. He’s the love of my life, which is why you’ll find a little of him sprinkled into all my heroes. He’s the magic ingredient that makes readers fall in love!
I hate adding heroes to my webpage because it means they’ve passed to a better place and are no longer here to protect us and to love the families they have left behind. The most recent Navy SEAL to die in Afghanistan is Chief Petty Officer Adam Lee Brown, age 36, from Hot Springs, Arkansas, who gave up his life on March 16, 2010. In an effort to protect his men, Adam charged the enemy and was firing on the enemy from a better vantage point, drawing fire away from his pinned-down comrades. He left behind a wife and two young children. If you would like to donate to his family, please contact me at email@example.com. Thank you for supporting those who risk everything to protect us.
A dedication to Mike Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who jumped on a hand grenade to save the lives of his fellow SEALs.
"Eight more Navy SEALs who died in Operation Redwing, on June 28,2005. All of these incredible men risked and lost their lives when their helicopter was struck by a Taliban-fired RPG as they were en route to rescue the fated four-man squad locked in a firefight with Taliban insurgents. Each man was a hero in his own right. May their memory live on forever."
Top row, from left to right: Daniel R. Healy, Erik S. Kristensen, Jacques J. Fontan, Jeffrey A. Lucas
Bottom row, from left to right: Michael M. McGreevy, Jr., Shane E. Patton, James Suh, Jeffrey S. Taylor
NEXTTODIE is dedicated to these three fallen SEALs,
Michael Murphy(left), Danny Deitz (center) and Matt Axelson (right). No men ever fought more valiantly for freedom. May light perpetual shine on them.
And may they NEVER be forgotten.
This is Marcus Luttrell, who inspired NEXT TO DIE. Not only did he endure ungodly hostilities and suffer terrible agonies, but he wrote the best book I've ever read, LONE SURVIVOR, which recounts what really happened during Operation Redwing. My own story doesn't begin to do him justice. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Marcus, for your service, your integrity, and the greatest gift you could have given to your companions, that of telling their story.
Here’s the man who inspired Luther Lindstrom, hero of
IN THE DARK
This is Pat Tillman, whom I never knew personally, but is obviously worth remembering. Pat gave up the glamorous life of professional football to join the Army Rangers. He was an inspiration on and off the football field, a man who could do it all. At 27, Tillman made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Lewis, Wash. The battalion was involved in Operation Mountain Storm in southeastern Afghanistan, where Tillman lost his life in a firefight. IN THE DARK is dedicated to his memory.
A True Hero
On September 29, 2006, Petty Officer 2 nd Class Michael Monsoor sacrificed his life to save his comrades. He dived on top of a grenade tossed by an Iraqi insurgent onto a rooftop where the SEALs were hiding. Michael was a humble man who believed strongly in his calling to serve as a Warrior for good. He has been recommended to receive the Medal of Honor. May he never be forgotten.