Connie Hughes Allen
|HOME OF RECORD:
|NEXT OF KIN:
Sister, Mrs. Marion Sandifer
|DATE OF BIRTH:
10/20/1940 – 10/16/1945
|DATE OF DEATH:
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
Connie Allen was born in Benson, North Carolina in 1916. He was the second child of Darry and Geneva Allen, and was raised working on the family farm; by 1930, the census carried him as a full-time farmhand. The skills he learned would be helpful in the most tragic way; Geneva died in 1932, and Darry followed her in 1934. This left Connie and his older sister Mattie, aged eighteen and twenty-two, in charge of the family farm and their younger siblings. Mattie got married, and in 1940 Connie gave up on farming to enlist in the Marine Corps.
After completing his training at Parris Island, Allen was assigned to Battery C of the 11th Marines – one of the Corps artillery units. He was soon on his way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he quickly picked up the cannoneer’s trade, earning a promotion to Private First Class on November 27, 1940. The former farm boy specialized in the delicate instruments that allowed the guns to fire accurately, and was so good at his duties that he made Corporal by October 1941 – an unusually fast climb in the inter-war Marine Corps.
Allen’s regiment was stationed at New River, North Carolina when the country entered World War II. They began training in earnest, and set out for the South Pacific by way of California and Samoa. The “Cannon Cockers” continued on to fight on Guadalcanal, but Corporal Allen was left behind; he was assigned to the Second Separate Pack Howitzer Battalion, part of the nascent 22nd Marines, which was building up its strength while simultaneously garrisoning Samoa.
In October 1942, Allen was transferred again, to the Fleet Marine Force Base Depot on Samoa. He appears to have suffered in the tropical climate, as his next few months were spent in and out of sick bay; eventually he was shipped back to California. A relatively dull stretch of duty on Terminal Island in Los Angeles followed before yet another newly-forming unit – the Fourth Marine Division – required Corporal Allen’s service. In September, 1943, he joined Baker Company, 24th Marines.
Allen’s time in the Corps, combined with his limited but genuine stretch of overseas duty, probably earned him a spot as a fire team leader in Captain Milt Cokin’s company, but his decision to go “over the hill” on Christmas Day, 1943, led to his reduction in rank to Private First Class. He would serve in his first combat action – the invasion of Namur on February 1, 1944 – as a regular rifleman. Company B took the heaviest losses in the battalion during the two-day invasion, and although he did not regain his second stripe, Connie Allen was placed in charge of a fire team, consisting of three Marines plus himself.
On June 15, 1944, PFC Allen splashed ashore on Saipan, organized his team and set off after his squad leader. He would lead his men in combat for less than 24 hours; on June 16 he was wounded and evacuated to a nearby hospital ship. It was the end of combat for Connie Allen.
After recuperating at naval hospitals in Aiea Heights, Hawaii and Oakland, California, he crossed the United States once again to join the garrison in Washington, DC. He received his Purple Heart on January 25, 1945, and served as an artillerist in the defenses of Washington until honorably discharged for disability on October 16, 1945.
Connie Allen died in 1972. He is buried in Banner Chapel Advent Christian Church Cemetery, Benson, North Carolina.