First Sergeant Willie Allen entered the US Army on 10 November 1953 in Huntsville, AL. After training to become an infantry soldier, Private Allen deployed to Korea at the tail end of that conflict. Much later, he deployed to Vietnam as a platoon sergeant. Platoon Sergeant Allen distinguished himself by heroism in action on 12 February 1968 while serving as a Platoon Sergeant with Company C, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry during a search and retrieve mission near Hue, Republic of Vietnam. When his unit became heavily engaged with a large enemy force, causing them to withdraw and leave the wounded personnel and equipment behind, Sergeant Allen, disregarding his own safety, unhesitatingly crossed an open area to give his wounded comrades first aid and retrieve a large quantity of equipment. His display of personal bravery and devotion to duty is in keeping with highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army. For his actions on that day, Sergeant Allen was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V Device for heroism.
Later in his Army career, Sergeant Allen again displayed great courage and bravery. While assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry, 2nd Armored Division, now First Sergeant Allen distinguished himself by voluntarily risking his own life to pull injured soldiers from the burning wreckage of a UHIH helicopter and a OH-58 Kiowa helicopter on 24 April 1973. While serving on GALLANT HAND 73, 1SG Allen became witness to a mid-air collision between the above helicopters. Immediately following the collision and explosion, 1SG Allen rushed to the wreckage of the downed helicopters. Disregarding the ruptured fuel tanks and the fire spreading throughout the aircraft, 1SG Allen, without hesitation and with great personal risk, moved to the wreckage and began moving the soldiers involved in the crash to safety. First Sergeant Allen’s performance of duty in the face of grave personal risk reflects great credit and pride upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. For this act of bravery, First Sergeant Allen was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the nation’s highest peacetime award for heroism.
Following his 22 years of service to the nation, 1SG Willie Allen retired to Madison County and lives in the New Hope area.