By Colonel Gregory Allen, U.S. Army (Retired)
Despite coming from a long family lineage of military service, I never dreamed of making the Army a career. My father, along with his four brothers, all enlisted in the military. He retired after 20 years including combat tours in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. My grandfather and uncles from my mother’s side of the family (she’s German) all gallantly served in WWI and WWII.
Upon graduation from West Point in 1988, I was commissioned in the Field Artillery and was stationed with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson. Our division did not deploy to the Middle East in support of Desert Storm. Instead, we were tasked with training up the National Guard at Fort Hood, TX. I had numerous classmates who served in Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm, but I missed out. My mind was made up then to leave the military, but I had a friend who convinced me to try out for a position in the Ranger Regiment. That decision changed my life.
After serving in 2nd Ranger Battalion, I became a Green Beret and served with 1st Special Forces Group. I had the opportunity to experience different cultures across the globe in locations including Korea, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea and Kuwait, just to name a few. It was during this time that I gained my appreciation for service, especially for those less fortunate. The Special Forces motto, “De Opresso Liber,” meaning “To free the oppressed,” was more than just a slogan for me. It became a way of life.
Several years later, I was part of the initial invasion of Iraq and was fortunate to be part of the team that rescued Pvt. Jessica Lynch. Upon return from Operation Iraqi Freedom, I became Director of Operations for the Washington Army National Guard, culminating my career as the Chief of Staff. I spent 11 years with the National Guard, to include another combat tour in 2008-2009, but I also had the opportunity to serve my community in my home state. I had the extreme pleasure of commanding citizen soldiers who helped their communities by quickly responding to domestic emergencies like floods, mudslides and forest fires.
Even though I am no longer jumping out of airplanes and traveling to exotic places, my life is far from boring. I retired in August of 2015, and have helped Veterans find employment opportunities while helping Veteran-owned businesses get their products and services out to the civilian sector. The last couple of years, I have worked with other Veterans developing disaster response plans for Fortune 500 companies, while providing PPE in support of COVID-19.
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Additionally, I am involved with numerous nonprofits that support our underprivileged children like the Washington Youth Academy and the Kiwanis Club. As a Board Member for the Catholic High School from which I graduated, I have attended numerous encounters and retreats with the students and serve as a guest instructor once a quarter to teach leadership classes. I am truly blessed that I get to share my experiences and lessons learned from my 27 years of service with the future leaders of our country.
Colonel Greg Allen retired from the military in 2015 after spending 27 years in uniform. He served in a variety of units to include the 4th Infantry Division, the Ranger Regiment, Special Forces and the Washington Army National Guard. Upon retirement, Greg continued his service by helping Veterans find employment while consulting for Veteran Owned Businesses. For the past couple of years, he has focused on providing emergency management services and supplies for both the public and private sector. Greg serves on several non-profit boards that support the children and youth in Washington State.