(Jan. 25, 2019) Berlin resident Dava Guerin has published her fifth book, “Rebuilding Sergeant Peck,” which is available for pre-order online and will be in stores in March.
“Rebuilding Sergeant Peck” is co-authored by Marine Sgt. John Peck and Terry Bivens. It follows Peck’s journey through traumatic brain injuries, becoming a quadruple amputee – he is only the second veteran in American history to receive a double arm transplant – and overcoming depression.
“His story is among the most remarkable stories I’ve probably ever seen of a wounded warrior,” Guerin said. “His dream was to become a Marine. In his first deployment his tank was hit with a mortar and he was on the gun, and the gun jammed into his head and [he] had a horrendous traumatic brain injury.”
The book focuses on his background, including the traumatic brain injury incident, which took place in Iraq.
Peck lost 21 years of his memories following the incident. Unable to recognize his own wife, it left a strain on his marriage, and the couple divorced after several attempts to regain his memories.
Peck was able to recover enough to reenlist despite his brain injury, and deployed to Afghanistan. There, he stepped on an IED and lost three limbs immediately, and the final limb had to be removed as a result of a flesh-eating disease.
“He was essentially one of five quadruple amputees from the war on terror in the country,” Guerin said. “That’s a pretty tough thing to have happen. It was really frightening for him because … they were worried at the hospital about who was going to take care of him. He overheard somebody say that he probably had to go to a nursing home and that just sent him into a tailspin and he was really determined that that’s not what he wanted to live his life.
“He was going to do everything he can to push, push, push and get better and be able to be as independent as possible,” she continued.
This determination helped him overcome depression and suicidal thoughts as well as come to the decision to help other wounded veterans.
Another aspect of Peck’s life was his desire to become a chef, which inspired him to look into arm transplant surgery. Once a donor was found, Peck underwent a 16-hour surgery for a double arm transplant, which was successful.
Peck, 32, is pursing his dream to become a chef. He is also a public speaker and hopes to inspire other veterans and victims of post traumatic stress disorder or sufferers of traumatic brain injuries.
“He’s so motivated and just such a wonderful person and he’s becoming a really good speaker,” she said. “He’s been doing a lot of speaking but now he signed with the Worldwide Speaker’s Bureau in Washington. He’s going to become a registered speaker.
“He’s writing his own speeches … and every [speech] is to motivate people and let them know that if he can get through what he has in his life that really there’s no such thing as a disability,” Guerin said. “It’s all what you make of it and how you choose to live your life.”
Peck and Guerin also want to encourage people to become organ donors through the book.
“Without the donor arms this would never have happened,” Guerin said. “Whether it’s on your driver’s license or you do it through the national registry, let people know that you’re a donor. You can literally save somebody’s life.”
The 262-page book will available in Walmart, Barnes and Nobles and other major stores. Pre-ordered copies can be purchased on Amazon for $24.99 or $16.99 for Kindle.
The book will also be turned into a documentary, which will begin filming in early February. Guerin hopes this will also lead to a feature film.
“We would love to get a feature film here because his story is just so visual that it would be unbelievable,” Guerin said.
Guerin has co-authored two memoirs: “Keep Chopping Wood” with Mike Hardwick and “Presidents, Kings and Convicts” with former member of Congress Bob Clement (D-TN). Her first book, “Unbreakable Bonds” was published in 2014. In 2017, Guerin released her fourth book, “Vets and Pets.”
She is also a Washington, D.C.–based communications consultant and writer and was the communications director for the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.davaguerin.com.