Thursday, January 04, 2007

Army Staff Sgt. Charles D. Allen

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Charles D. Allen, 28, of Wasilla, Alaska

SSgt Allen was assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Jan. 4, 2007 in Baghdad of injuries suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations.

Alaskan medic killed in Iraq was on second tour
Family says medic loved being in Army, taking care of 'his' troops.

By Rindi White
Anchorage Daily News (Alaska)

WASILLA, Alaska — Staff Sgt. Charles D. Allen died doing precisely what he loved most, his family said.

"Since I have known him, we've both been prepared for this because we both knew this is what he wants to do," said Kerensa Allen, Charles Allen's wife and best friend.

"He used to say 'sacrifice the good of the few for the good of the many.' He was all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He was an extraordinary soldier, an extraordinary man," she said.

Charles Allen, 28, of Wasilla died in Iraq after being shot in the neck by small-arms fire Thursday. He was promoted posthumously to staff sergeant, according to Fort Lewis public information officer Leslie Kaye.

According to information from the Department of Defense, Allen was killed when his unit came in contact with enemy forces in Baghdad during combat operations. He was a combat medic, assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Kerensa said Charles often volunteered for duty and was traveling with another unit, the 23rd Infantry Brigade on Jan. 4. She said she had no other details.

Kerensa said her husband of 10 years was lucky to have led the career of his dreams, one of adventure, activity and challenge. He embarked on that career in Colony High School when he joined the junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. Kerensa joined too, and spent four years in the Army Reserves. ROTC and the Army gave them the active lifestyle both of them wanted.

"I got to rappel, run through the woods. Our senior prom, we were almost late for our dinner because we were in an ROTC competition," Kerensa said.

Charles and Kerensa were among the first students in Colony High's junior ROTC program. Retired Lt. Col. Ed Strabel said he remembered Charles as a very fit, outgoing student. Charles earned several awards and became one of three company commanders, a role that challenged Allen to lead while planning his company's next steps.

Charles' father, Dave Allen, of Chester, Mont., said his son had a natural knack for leadership and seemed born to his role in the Army. He wasn't surprised that his son was an excellent soldier.

"He was so enthused with his job, that's where it came from," Dave Allen said. "He was a really good medic and he wanted to be out there giving the guys the best care they could get."

On his time off, Charles Allen played video games and watched cartoons with his 7-year-old son, Orion. He enjoyed being outdoors hunting, fishing and fishing with a bow and arrow. Bow fishing was a technique he learned from his father and a pastime he was crazy for, Kerensa said.

"We almost crashed a car because he thought he saw a carp jump out of a lake," Kerensa said.

The Allens moved from base to base while Charles trained. They were stationed in Georgia, Louisiana and North and South Carolina before Kerensa asked to move to a base closer to her family. After a stint at Fort Wainwright, they were transferred to Fort Lewis.

Charles Allen was midway through his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed. He preferred his work as a combat medic to his job during his first tour of duty, tending to Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, Dave Allen said.

His son deployed in 2004 to Iraq at roughly the same time the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke. A major overseeing the prison hospital was relieved of her duties, and Charles was temporarily assigned to run the wound care center.

Although he got recognition for having an infection rate lower than stateside hospitals, Dave Allen said his son wanted to help soldiers in the field instead.

"He always said it exactly -- 'My guys need me,' " Dave Allen said.

The military occupied much of Charles Allen's life, even beyond training and active duty. Kerensa said she and her husband hosted single soldiers at Thanksgiving and Christmas each year to make holidays easier on them. Everywhere they were stationed, Charles took a subordinate under his wing and taught him to excel in the military, she said.

"He didn't want to be promoted because he wanted to be able to work with his soldiers," Kerensa said.

His mother, Kathy Allen of Wasilla, said she beli eved her son enjoyed the structure and support the military provided.

"The guys banded together. They took care of each other," she said.

Kathy Allen said that when she and her son celebrated their birthdays in April 2006 she sought assurance he would be home to celebrate future birthdays.

"He guaranteed me he would come home and do it," she said. "He did his best."

The family has planned a memorial service at Fort Lewis at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. A funeral is planned for Saturday but exact details were still being arranged, Kerensa said. She said she hasn't yet considered holding an Alaska service.

Army Staff Sgt. Charles D. Allen was killed in action on 01/04/07.

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