Joel Struthers is the author of “Appel” which recounts his time in the French Foreign Legion. Submitted photo

Langley author recounts service in the French Foreign Legion

Langley’s Joel Struthers aims to educate the public on what service looks like in the Legion.

Joining the military was something Langley’s Joel Struthers always had in mind, but becoming an author was less expected.

Years ago, after graduating from Langley Secondary School, Struthers joined the Canadian Reserves, then went on to join the French Foreign Legion and became part of the legion’s Group Commando Parachutistes (GCP), where he served for six years.

And now, the 47-year-old Murrayville resident has published a book called Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion through the Wilfred Laurier University Press that outlines his time overseas as a soldier in the 1990s.

“I’m not a writer, I’m just a soldier, and I had the story,” Struthers said.

Struthers was inspired to write the book after his grandfather – who also served in the military – advised Struthers to save his memories after his return to Canada.

“I took his advice thankfully, and my experiences were typed to Word document and left untouched for over a decade. My post-legion experiences, age, and perspective led to Appel,” Struthers explained.

According to Struthers, there are many misconceptions about the French Foreign Legion, and the purpose of the book is to tell the “truth” and give a “positive account,” of his service.

He explained the legion was initially designed to allow foreigners, and people with prison sentences to fight for France overseas.

“Now it’s an integral part of the French military. They take one in 15 applicants so they can pick and choose,” Struthers added.

“A lot of people think the less-desirables or the convicts or whatever go over there – that’s the kind of Hollywood narrative, but it’s untrue. I went over there to soldier and that’s what I got to see. I was a young man and I got to see the world for what it was.”

After processing his thoughts for years after returning to Canada, working on rough drafts, and getting facts checked by friends from the regiment and the GCP, Struthers’ book officially hit store shelves in early March.

“The research included reviewing books I had from my time in the legion, books acquired for the purpose, and online websites to ensure legion, military, historical, and family facts were accurate,” Struthers elaborated.

During the creative process, Struthers said the majority of work was done at home, with a glass of French red wine, and good music.

Since returning to Canada in the early 2000s, Struthers works as a commercial helicopter pilot, and is raising a family.

“We used to use helicopters [in the legion] all the time for jumping so I got the itch to fly,” he added.

In 2017, Struthers took his two children to the Corsica region of France to show them where he spent his young adulthood.

“When people would find out I was in the legion, they’d make statements where I would just shake my head. You can’t explain it in a short conversation,” Struthers added.

Appel is available to purchase at Chapters Indigo stores, and online at www.amazon.ca

Struthers will be hosting a book signing on Saturday, March 30 from 12 to 4 p.m. at Chapters Indigo.

 

Joel Struthers is the author of “Appel” which recounts his time in the French Foreign Legion. Submitted photo

Just Posted

Alder Inn faces permanent closure

After a Sept. 20 fire, the damages have displaced tenants and Schnitzels family

Former local grad empowers Langley students at We Day

An annual event aims to inspire youth

WEATHER: A frosty morning, but a sunny day in Langley

Environment Canada expects temperatures will reach a low of 0 C tonight

1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin

Jokes erupted this week after a 120-year-old photo taken by Eric A. Hegg surfaced from archives

Driver escaped uninjured as car burst into flames on Nordel Way

It happened at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in North Delta, just west of Scott Road

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

CN Rail strike and lack of trucking alternatives stoke forest industry fears

Companies calling on the federal government to ‘do everything in its power’ to end the strike

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils new Liberal cabinet

Pivotal role in his new cabinet for a minority-government era goes to Chrystia Freeland

B.C. mom, kids on bike turned away from Tim Hortons drive-thru

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

B.C. woman puts call out for 10,000 personal, heartfelt Christmas cards for the homeless

Christmas Card Collective enters into third year of making spirits bright

Most Read