By Ken MacQueen
In my thriller Hero Haters I write about remarkable heroes who are targeted by an evil group. It is a work of fiction.
In my other life as a journalist, I’ve had the rare and wonderful experience of reporting the feats of genuine heroes. And so, this week I travelled to Surrey, B.C., to catch up with retired Canadian Forces Capt. Trevor Greene and his wife Debbie, two of my real-life heroes.
And what a day it was.
Greene’s head was split open by a crude axe during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in 2006. That he didn’t die from that horrific injury or the subsequent firefight owes much to the courage of his fellow soldiers and the medical skills of his trauma team. That he isn’t, as he once told me, drooling in front of a TV in a care home, has everything to do with the grit, love and stubborn determination of Debbie Lepore, his then fiancé, now wife, and mother of their two children.
Should you wish to know more about them, here’s a link to one of my stories about their journey, this one from 2015:
It is a story of big, impossible dreams. Feel free to read it later. But now, let me share what I saw this week—the story of a dream fulfilled.
I was one of hundreds at the grand opening of Legion Veterans Village in Surrey. It is a towering $312-million edifice built on the site of what was a careworn circa-1950s Royal Canadian Legion, Whalley Branch 229.
It also rests on the shoulders of dozens of people who attended the event—soldiers, Legion members, a health care administrator, a neuroscientist, a community-committed development and construction company, governments at every level, teams of clinicians, rehab specialists and, yes, seated at the edge of the stage, Capt. Trevor Greene.
The Veterans Village is unique in Canada and perhaps North America. It contains a brand-new Legion, of course, the nicest I’ve ever seen. And towering above and beside it are 91 affordable housing apartments and 171 market housing units for veterans and first responders. It’s a place to live and a place to heal, with cutting-edge rehabilitation facilities and mental care services for treatment of PTSD and other trauma.
As important, says Greene, it will be a place to share among those bearing similar scars, the visible ones, and those locked inside.
“I know some troops who came home, but they’re still in Afghanistan,” Greene said addressing the crowd. “The subsidized housing and PTSD care will save their lives.”
I wrote about this crazy vision back in 2015, wondering if it was a pipe dream; hoping it wasn’t.
Well, it’s real. As for Greene, we hugged and we shared a brief catch-up on this crazy, magnificent day.
Many in the crowd credit him as the inspiration for all this, though he is quick to praise an army of the committed who saw it through.
Among his skills is his facility with the language, his past as a university rower, and his soldier’s determination to overcome loss—all attributes I wanted my protagonist, Jake Ockham, to possess.
So, as perverse as it may seem for a book called Hero Haters, Greene was one of my developmental readers. If he was offended by the title, he never said so. What offended him were my spots of lazy writing. He noted places where sights and sounds and smells would elevate the prose. You can do better, he said. And I hope I did.
Among the dedications at the end of the novel is this: “retired Canadian Forces Capt. Trevor Greene (rower, soldier, author and the very definition of hero.)”
Thank you, Trev.
We are very excited to announce that on February 25, Ken will be doing a book signing at Indigo Coles Books at their Langley location in the Willowbrook Mall. Ken will be in store from 1-3pm.
We are very excited to announce that on February 11, Ken will be doing a book signing at Indigo Books at their Broadway and Granville location. Ken will be in store from 1-3pm.