Orleans prays for a remarkable soldier

Gary Dimmock
The Ottawa Citizen

Monday, March 06, 2006

They were saying prayers yesterday for Capt. Trevor Greene at an Orleans church. It's not too far from the big hill leading up to Queenswood Heights, where, on Hoylake Crescent, neighbours and friends fondly remember him spending his high school days shooting hoops with his mom, Bessie, until dark. He perfected his three-pointers and layups, and along the way, impressed just about everybody on street with his social conscience -- one that had him leaving Ottawa to not only study public-service journalism, but to practise it around the world.

CREDIT: Rick Madonik, The Canadian Press

Capt Trevor Greene has a few moments to himself before settling in on a mountaintop during a two-day patrol on Feb 27, just six days before he was wounded by an axe-wielding Taliban fighter during a meeting with community elders in a village near Kandihar, Afghanistan.

He landed in Japan, and somehow found time away from Tokyo's biggest newsroom to write a book about the country's homeless. When Capt. Greene returned to Canada in 1995, he managed to win the trust of those closest to the missing prostitutes in Vancouver's Eastside. In November 2001 -- long before anyone was charged, let alone interested in the case -- Capt. Greene, a 41-year-old reservist, published Bad Date: The Lost Girls of Vancouver's Low Track. In the book, he theorized that a serial killer, still on the loose, was responsible for the abduction and killings of the scores of prostitutes. The rugby man turned peacekeeping soldier got so close to the families of the slain sex-trade workers that to this day, newspaper reporters out West covering the case still quote from his book.

On Saturday, Capt. Greene was engaged in another act of trying to help a different kind of down-and-out people.

He met tribal elders at a village north of Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a civilian affairs man tasked with not only understanding their needs, but meeting them.

He laid down his helmet and gun, and sat and listened under a tree by a river. Then, a Taliban insurgent ambushed him, savagely attacking with an axe to the head. The soldier, an officer with the Seaforth Highlanders, had come in peace and left on gurney, and his colleagues wasted no seconds in shooting his attacker down.

That Capt. Greene, thousands of kilometres from safe and quiet Orleans, was even there, taking the time to listen to the villagers' needs, was not surprising -- at least not to those who watched him grow up.

George Hurry, a well-spoken man, is a retired Mountie just like Trevor Greene's father, Dick. Mr. Hurry, who lived next door, not only recalls young Trevor's "pounding" basketball, but recognized the lad's sense of caring for the downtrodden at an early age.

"It's not surprising that he was there doing what he was doing. He seemed to always have a social conscience. His mom and dad were like that too. You could never have a better neighbour," Mr. Hurry said yesterday.

"He was a great kid and well-liked. He was happy-go-lucky and we were devastated when we heard what happened," Mr. Hurry said.

The captain, though in a war zone, let down his guard with the hopes of making peace over sips of tea. Still, an insurgent came at him with an axe and he is now listed in serious but stable condition at hospital in Germany.

The folks who remembered Capt. Greene as a teenager bowed their heads yesterday and said a prayer at Divine Infant Parish. They are the kind of folks who don't mind being as proud of their neighbours' kids as their own.

There are a load of kids from Hoylake Crescent who are memorable, particularly since a few of them were teenage television stars. Still, they have a special place for the kid who, it seemed, literally spent every free hour shooting hoops in the laneway to 281 Hoylake Crescent. The kids across the street may have been cashing in on You Can't Do That On Television, but it was the kid shooting hoops that the neighbourhood parents took to their hearts. They knew that he went into journalism (King's College, Halifax), and they knew his books -- including a book he co-authored about closing the big-buck deals.

Shane Gibson, the co-author of the business book, posted this on the Internet:

"Trevor is a talented author, an amazing dad and partner, the kind of person you can count on always. He is deeply committed to protecting and preserving the freedoms we enjoy as Canadians," said Mr. Gibson.

But no matter Capt. Greene's worldly experiences, he'll always, at least to folks in this neighbourhood, be the tall kid who jumped up to the basket until the street lights came on.

And now, everyone here, including myself (I lived one street over) is reading, listening and watching what will happen next to Capt. Trevor Greene.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2006



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