ADA, Mich. — A local veteran is now a published author.
Over the next two weeks, “Kilroy Was Here” will make its way into Barnes & Noble bookstores across West Michigan.
Brett Allen is the author.
“It’s a little bit more dark humor than what people might expect,” said Allen.
Allen grew up in Fremont then attended college at Michigan State University. During his time at MSU he enrolled in the school’s ROTC program and commissioned into the U.S. Army upon graduation.
In 2009, Allen was deployed to Afghanistan as a Cavalry Captain with the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division.
Allen spent a year in Afghanistan before returning to West Michigan and starting his family in Ada.
“I had always wanted to serve,” said Allen. “Without the mental discipline I got there, I probably wouldn’t have completed the book.”
Allen began writing “Kilroy Was Here” shortly after returning from Afghanistan.
“I had talked to my friends a lot about how no one is ever going to believe these stories, this would make a great fiction novel, so that’s kind of what I set out to do from there,” said Allen.
Allen signed on with A15 Publishing, a veteran owned and operated publishing house, last August. He says he wanted to show a different side of the war.
“I was seeing a lot of war books coming out, but most of them were geared toward the heroic actions,” said Allen. “If they weren’t that, then it was the broken soldier coming home. I felt like that was giving an unfair view to a lot of veterans that either weren’t in those fire fights or they didn’t come home broken, they just came home.”
“What I’ve tried to capture here [is] show some of those absurdities, some of the more comical moments that happen on deployment to war, and hopefully give voice to a lot of veterans who may feel like they didn’t leave an impact but they really did because they helped keep the machine moving along.”
Allen says it’s loosely based off of his experience overseas.
“The book itself follows the deployment of a young calvary officer who, I guess kind of like me, was a combat officer who assumed he would go to Afghanistan and experience combat and have this heroic experience,” said Allen. “Then he was relegated to a desk job and it follows him through kind of the absurdities and bureaucracy.”
Twenty-five percent of Allen’s earnings will be donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation and Grand Rapids chapter of Team RBW.
“I’m very lucky in that I came home largely unaffected from my war experience and some folks were not so lucky,” said Allen. “I feel like it’s important to give back.”
He hopes the book is an escape for each reader.
“We’ve all had a rough year - the pandemic, the protests, the election commercials - people could use some levity,” said Allen. “My hope is that people pick it up and it makes them laugh.”
“Kilroy Was Here” will be available at the Barnes & Noble locations at Woodland Mall, Grandville, Holland, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, and Battle Creek. It is also available on Amazon.