The Iron Soldier: How Trevor Greene Learned to Walk Again

Nine years after Capt. Trevor Greene took an axe to the head in Afghanistan, he is walking again. It’s a journey that could change lives. Ken MacQueen, September 11, 2015 | Maclean's

Trevor Greene has a new tattoo on his left forearm. It appears to show a rugged mountain peak and, above it, a string of letters I can’t decipher. It’s mid-June, an exciting morning for the forcibly retired Army Reserve captain, his wife, Debbie, and a cast of characters who crowd the main floor of the Greene family home in Nanaimo, B.C. Greene, in his wheelchair, is sharing the focus of attention with a silent partner sitting nearby, something that looks eerily like a headless robot. The Greenes, in ways they couldn’t possibly have foreseen, have been building to this moment for more than nine years, really, since the aftermath of March 4, 2006, the day Capt. Greene first did the impossible by refusing to die in the dust of a remote Afghan settlement.

By 2006, the Canadian Forces had long since abandoned the concept of peacekeeping; our soldiers were in a shooting war against the Taliban. It was Greene’s role, as civil-military co-operation officer, to build bridges to a more peaceful future by offering aid and infrastructure assistance to impoverished villages in Kandahar province. It is why he was sitting on the ground with the elders of Shinkay village, why he had set down his rifle and removed his helmet as signs of respect; why, as he spoke of Canada’s desire to help this village, he was vulnerable to a 16-year-old who crept up behind him, pulled a crude axe from his cloak and slammed it into Greene’s skull with a cry of “Allahu akbar” (God is great). Greene’s eyes rolled back in his head as he slumped unconscious, blood and brain spilling on the ground. The assailant was killed in a fusillade of Canadian bullets, but his attack signalled the start of a Taliban ambush. As Canadian soldiers fought back, a medic worked to stabilize Greene, and platoon commander Kevin Schamuhn radioed for a helicopter rescue. At Kandahar base, an incredulous radio operator asked that the cause of the injury be repeated. “I say again,” snapped Schamuhn, “the nature of the wound is an axe to the head. Over.”

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