On April 6, 1966 Terry and Kathy Flynn welcomed their son, Vincent Joseph Flynn, into the world. Vince, or “Vinnie” as he was so affectionately referred to by his family and friends, is the fifth of seven children, born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
There’s going to be a lot of tributes today about Vince’s life, detailing things about his childhood, like how he attended Saint Thomas Academy, an all-male military school in Minnesota. Or how he continued his education by following the footsteps of five of his siblings, his father, and his uncle by attending the University of St. Thomas.
Rather than continue following the same script, I’d like to take a different approach in writing my tribute to Vince.
Vince lived a life that should be celebrated! In 47 short years, he accomplished more than most could in several lifetimes. His greatest accomplishment, without question, was being a wonderful son, brother, husband and father. His second biggest accomplishment – creating Mitch Rapp – well, that wasn’t so bad either.
Mitch Rapp, a character that has become as iconic as the likes of James Bond and Jack Ryan, continues on. The world has known many great writers, but very few of them are ever able to create and develop a character that transcends their own death. Vince did that.
This week has been exciting for a select few diehard Mitch Rapp fans, myself included. The first round of advanced copies of The Survivor, the fourteenth Mitch Rapp novel, were distributed. Without question, it’s a bittersweet adventure with Rapp since it’s a story Vince was unable to finish himself. Kyle Mills stepped up and, with plenty to work with, delivered an excellent book that I feel confident Vince would be proud of. I encourage everyone to read it, you’re going to love it!
Two years ago today, I woke up and turned on the news. I’d never heard of Vince Flynn before, in fact, the first time I did was when the breaking news ticker at the bottom of the screen told me he’d just passed away after courageously battling prostate cancer.
I’m not sure what it was, or why I felt compelled to do some research about Vince, but I sat down and typed his name into Google. Up until that point, I’d never read a book in my adult life. My oldest daughter is a bookworm, and she’d been begging me to try different books for years.
Somewhere between learning that his novels were about a man working for the CIA to hunt down terrorists, and that he’d been a consultant during the fifth season of the hit television show 24, I made the decision to order the first book of his series.
American Assassin arrived in the mail from Amazon a few days later, and the rest is history.
Regretfully, I never had the fortune of meeting Vince. As saddened as I am to know I’ll never shake the hand of my idol in this lifetime, I’m repeatedly blown away by the kindness offered from his family and friends.
Several people have reached out to me and shared things about Vince that make me feel as though I genuinely knew him. Everybody from his family and friends, to those that worked with him, have nothing but adoring things to say and fun stories to share. To each of you, you’ve all represented Vince well, and your love for him is beyond apparent. I’m so very sorry for your loss.
I’ve never spoken to Vince’s wife, Lysa, the First Lady of the Rapp series, but my prayers are with her today. She loaned her husband to the world, sharing him with us though his writing, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
As much as I love and cherish my Rapp books, I’m fully aware that my feelings aren’t even in the same universe as the love she has for Vince. Lysa, my heart breaks for you and your children today. I’m so sorry for your loss, and please know that you’re in the thoughts of Rapp fans everywhere.
Likewise, I’ve never met or spoken to Vince’s parents, but I’d sure like to. I have five children, the youngest of which was named after Mitch Rapp’s wife, and I can honestly say that I’d be a proud father if any of my kids turn out like Vince. Not necessarily an annual New York Times bestselling author, though that would be wonderful! I just hope that they grow up to be good, honest, hardworking, God-fearing men and women.
To truly understand Vince’s legacy, and just how beloved he still is, take note of all the news outlets, celebrities, authors and athletes that mention him today. It’s been two years since his unfortunate, tragic passing – but Vince will never be forgotten. Yeah, you’ll hear things about Rapp today, but the bulk of that will be from people that never met him and are just big fans of his work.
I’ll be paying attention to the people that speak to Vince’s character, humor, generosity, love, courage and friendliness.
Consider this, only a handful of characters successfully outlive their creators. Yet as loved as Mitch Rapp is by millions around the world, he will never come close to being as loved as Vince Flynn. That speaks volumes to the man we’re all missing and thinking about today.
My deepest, most sincere condolences to all of those that loved and knew Vince, especially his wife, children, and family.
See you someday, Vince. Until then, I promise to always “Keep the Faith!”
For additional reading about Vince Flynn, written by someone who actually knew him, I encourage everyone to check out several posts written by Kathy Schneeman. Kathy and her husband, Eric, are friends of the Flynn’s and mentioned by Vince in the acknowledgement section of Kill Shot.
Here are her touching posts: