In the year 2038, the last surviving veteran of World War II offers his final testament to a small town journalist who learns more about himself than he anticipates as he records tales of duty, courage and friendship during war, and of a life well-loved and lived.
Dan Callahan doesn't know why he landed this coveted assignment or what to expect from 112-year-old Owen Trimbel, currently living with his daughter on a rural Minnesota farm even now beyond the reach of pervasive tech. But he sensed that it might be one of those rare opportunities to capture something singular: living memories from the last of a resilient, resourceful, and determined generation, a veteran from a war and a time encased in sepia tones in the minds of a distracted public.
He finds his subject waning but still humored by life and surprisingly keen of mind. Dan spends the next three days riveted to Owen's adventures as a young gunner with a night-flying crew, transported with him from New Guinea to the Mariana Islands on harrowing rescue missions to remote river outposts, and long flights over endless black seas broken only by sightings of enemy ships far below. And finally, the sweet homecoming, complicated by the challenges Owen faces while navigating a new life of unfamiliar circumstances and some very old secrets.
Although fictionalized, The Last Word is an amalgam of stories and characters shaped and informed by filmed interviews with ten, real-life squadron members who served in the Pacific during World War II and who graced the author with their time, narratives, and importantly, their wisdom and good friendship.