Three generations serving their country
LVN Editor Emeritus
November is Native American Heritage Month, and the Lahontan Valley News will be featuring additional articles this month on Native American veterans who served in the military.
Three generations of the Allen family, each representing a different branch of military service, have proudly served their nation and state beginning with the first enlistment during the waning days of World War II.
Dan Allen, treasurer of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, said his father, Leonard, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school in 1944.
“He did his basic (training) in San Diego and was assigned to Marine Corps aviation in Klamath Falls, Oregon,” Allen said of his father. “It was late in the war, and he was a mechanic for the Navy Hellcats.”
Allen said his father never saw combat.
Leonard Allen, who was a Fourth of July baby born in 1925, died in July at the age of 94. Not only is Dan Allen proud of his father’s service but he is also pleased with the legacy he left in Churchill County before he joined the Marine Corps. Leonard Allen played on the football team, leading the Greenwave to a 1944 state championship. The elder Allen was a captain and all-state selection that year on the state championship football team and also lettered in his junior and senior seasons.
Leonard Allen was also an outstanding boxer, placing first in the Tournament of Champions and coaching two boxers in the 1976 Olympic trials. Two years ago in its inaugural season, the Greenwave Hall of Fame inducted 35 members including Leonard Allen and his football coach, Wes Goodner, who played football with the legendary Marion Motley at Nevada.
After he finished his enlistment, Leonard Allen enrolled at Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kan., where he also played football, ran track, rode saddle bronc and boxed. Dan Allen said his father returned to Nevada where he worked for Drumm Construction and then accepted a position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Stewart Indian School south of Carson City.
“I grew up in a mixture of a small farm, small college,” Dan Allen said. “Four miles of sagebrush was between the school and Carson City.”
Dan Allen, who was born in Fallon, said he was 5 years old when the family moved to Stewart. Allen attended Carson City High School where he became a football standout and, similar to his father’s experience, was inducted into that school’s Hall of Fame in 2005. Allen graduated from high school in 1969 and attended the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he played football for Coach Jerry Scattini for four years, the first two as a running back and the final two on defense.
Like so many students across the United States in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Dan Allen signed up for the draft because of the Vietnam War, but as a 19-year-old, he learned his draft lottery number was low as in 10. During his sophomore year, Allen made a major decision.
“Hayden Hill, an offensive lineman, had gone to West Point for two years, left, and came to Nevada,” Allen recalled. “He looked at me said, ‘Sonny, how come you’re so down?’”
Allen told his teammate, whose father was the university’s Army ROTC commandant, about the draft number. As a result of a talk with Hayden’s father, though, Allen said he felt the best route to take was joining the ROTC program. He attended the ROTC camp at Fort Lewis, Wash., during the summer of 1973 and when he graduated from UNR on May 5, 1975, he also received his commission as a second lieutenant.
Allen shipped off to El Paso, Texas, to attend the officer basic course in air defense artillery at Fort Bliss. After finishing OBC, Allen said he weighed his options between active duty and the National Guard.
“I talked to a recruiter,” Allen said. “He said there’s one slot available in HQ (Headquarters) Company with a Reno detachment, the 105th Artillery Battery. During his eight years in the Nevada Guard, Allen served as a Red Eye platoon leader, and when the unit dissolved, he transferred to the 153rd HHC Detachment where he became a small arms repair section leader.
The first lieutenant left the guard in 1983, and 10 years later, he moved back to Fallon to become an appraiser with Churchill County.
Allen’s son, Chandler, graduated in 2001 from Carson High School where he played basketball and baseball for the Senators. He currently serves as an economic director with the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe. Chandler Allen joined the Nevada Air National Guard after his high-school graduation and attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. Once finished with his initial military training, he returned to Reno to attend UNR, where he majored in business.
“At the time I was looking at medical school, ophthalmology, but 2001 hit,” he said, referring to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when two passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center, another into The Pentagon, and the fourth into a field in western Pennsylvania. “My plans definitely changed.”
For the six years he was in the Air Guard, Chandler Allen achieved the rank of staff sergeant and worked in logistics, later switching to information management. He said his motivation for enlisting in the Guard was because of previous family members who joined the military and the financial assistance for higher education.
“I love the military,” he said. “This was the best thing I ever did. It’s a good transition for kids becoming an adult.”
Like so many young guardsmen who joined after 9/11, Chandler Allen said he hoped for an assignment to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The opportunity to deploy to a war zone, though, never occurred.
“We were scheduled to go to Baghdad, but the mission was cancelled,” he said, expressing disappointment.
He did the next best thing. Chandler Allen remained in Reno supporting the deployed airmen overseas and ensuring their families back home received the proper support.
“In logistics, I tried to get the guys all the necessities to help them out while they were over there,” said Allen.