Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Trevor Greene

Note: I should have mentioned from the beginning that Trevor Greene lived and worked in Japan for seven years right after he graduated from university and that during that time he wrote a book about homeless people in Japan called Bridge of Tears. This book was short listed for an award in Japan.

Yesterday afternoon I was perusing the most recent posts on F---ed Gaijin as I sometimes do when I came across the name of an old army colleague, Trevor Greene. I had been unaware that he had had his head split open with an axe in Afghanistan on Saturday, and it came as a bit of a shock. He was a fascinating character, as his online bio shows—an author, journalist and adventurer who, before going on a tour of duty in Afghanistan, was living on a boat in a harbour in Vancouver. Following is a brief exert from the Toronto Star article about Saturday’s happening in Afghanistan:

A Canadian civil affairs officer came in peace yesterday to a destitute Afghan village, removing his helmet and laying his weapon on the ground. He sat cross-legged with tribal elders and produced a notepad, into which he began to faithfully record the people's needs.
From behind, a young man stepped forward suddenly from among the crowd of villagers and raised an axe above his head. With a single cry of "Allahu Akbar," he swung the blade into the top of the Canadian officer's head.

Apparently he’s being assessed for brain damage at a military hospital in Germany right now. I don’t remember all the guys who were on my platoon commanders’ course at Gagetown, New Brunswick during the summer of 2002, but Trevor Greene was a hard guy to forget. First of all, he was huge. I remember one time I was waiting patiently in line with him and another young officer named Lo to get into Sweet Waters or Upper Deck or one of those bars in Fredericton. We were, um . . . pleasantly buzzed and in a placid frame of mind. . . when we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a whirlwind of bouncers and super drunk big fat dudes battling in the entry way. Good old Greene stepped in front of Lo and me (presumably because he was twice as big as us and felt responsible in a big brotherly sort of way) and spread his arms with the expression of someone trying very hard to concentrate on an important task, allowing Lo and me to carry on in our carefree “zone” without fear of becoming collateral damage. Also, Greene and I were the only two guys on our course who had lived in Japan and spoke Japanese. Sometimes we would call out drill and cadence in Japanese just for a change and to show those Francos that you don’t need to speak French to be bilingual (or, in Greene’s case, trilingual). Because of his gigantic personality and sincere sense of humour, Greene was by far the most popular course candidate with the staff. So we were all astonished at the end of the summer when he was failed twice for his command roles in defensive withdrawals. Then, for his third and last chance on the very last night of our two month platoon commanders’ course, the staff went out of their way to ensure that his mission disintegrated into a full scale route and unmitigated disaster. Greene swore and cussed the whole way to the rendezvous point, sure that he had failed the course. Then it turned out that the staff had just been playing a joke on him and he was passed with flying colours.

It’s a real sick "joke" that’s been played on him this time, in Afghanistan. He had a fine head on his shoulders, and I pray that it will be restored to him in full. To Trevor Greene!

Elliot (me) and Lo, the Two Little Guys that Greene Shielded in the Sweet Waters Entryway