One More Push for the Purple Heart


For ten years, the military has refused to award my husband Lou Allen the Purple Heart.

I have had to watch Lou’s admitted killer walk out of the courtroom with a smug smile, and have had to live with the knowledge he will never be held accountable. I have watched a new Purple Heart museum built in my county, and known Lou’s sacrifice is not deemed worthy of inclusion. I have seen stories of other cases of soldiers killing fellow soldiers – all with the same warning signs as in Lou’s death – and I have seen Lou’s name omitted from these cases, too. Slowly, his death is being erased from the record. He falls into no category.

He is among the misfit deaths the military recognizes only as “Other.”

For ten years our family has waged a lonely war, made a little less lonely as legions of veterans and others have stepped forward to support us. I have two Purple Hearts from two extraordinary Vietnam Veterans who gave me their own medals in honor of Lou’s sacrifice, and in shared frustration that this government refuses to do the same. This battle does not come without a price; Each time I launch a new effort I must relive these events. I am again swept up in the pain and immersed in sorrow that Lou’s death is so easily dismissed.

Eleven months ago, with the help of Congressman Maloney, I submitted one more effort. I sent a package to the Military’s Awards Division Board outlining my case and requesting the opportunity to personally appear before it. On Friday, October 30, I received an envelope in the mail. I have until Nov 6 to respond. In the package is approximately 25 pages of redacted CID reports all appearing to point to Martinez as the killer, and then noting the acquittal. I don’t know precisely how to respond, as  this is not new information to me, and I submitted as much in my own package. But I do have a horrible sinking feeling that I am again about to hear the same tired line, that Lou was not killed by an enemy.

I have watched over the years as other soldiers wounded or killed by fellow soldiers have been awarded the Purple Heart. As their deaths and injuries are recognized as worthy of honoring and their families find comfort in knowing that. I have felt the taint of my husband’s killer on the legacy of my husband. And I have wondered why- not just why did any of this happen, but why does the military still refuse to include Lou, and others like Wesley Durbin and Christopher Seifert – all killed by traitors in the ranks- as having laid down their lives in combat for this country? As casualties of the enemy?

A primary contrast between those who are awarded the Purple Heart in these cases, and those who are not, is public support. Fort Hood is a great example. So ask now- again- for your help.

Next week I will be responding to the Military Awards Board, and the Board will determine its decision- apparently without allowing me to appear before it. I am asking all of you to share this post. Comment on this blog and spread the word.  Thank you.

I will print each letter and include with my response.

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18 Replies to “One More Push for the Purple Heart”

  1. I sure hope the board allows you to make the case, not merely for the medal but for closure in a difficult chapter in yours and your family’s life. Our government should be ashamed that they’ve not acknowledged his sacrifice to our country

  2. As far as I am concerned, a traitor in the ranks is the enemy. Out of all my high school teachers, I remember his passion and love for what he was doing the most. Great teacher, and will never be forgotten.

  3. Barbara,
    As a student of Mr. Allens at Burke and a military spouse myself, i am appalled at how the death of Mr. Allen has been handled. He was an amazing man, teacher, soldier, and friend. How dare the government not give him what he rightfully deserves!! May you continue to find comfort and know that we are all behind you 100%!

  4. It is time for the board to recognize that your husband was killed by the enemy. He deserves a Purple Heart. Your family needs this. I pray that they make the right decision.

  5. Mr. Allen was an amazing teacher and person; no one should die how he died. For them to rule as they did is absolutely appalling and to not award a purple heart is cowardly to say the least. I hope that they change their minds as it will help you and your family have the closure that has been denied to you for far too long. Our military must do right by those who give their lives to serve and protect our country.

    1. Sarah, Thank you for the comments. Hearing from Lou’s students is always like a little tap from him, reminding me he is still present:)

  6. Hang in there. There’s not much I can say to help a family still grieving over their father. Lou is deserving of everything. While I can’t decide the Puprle Heart, I can let you know that he was an absolute inspiration and one of the most attentive teachers I have come across. Amongst a school of rather bland studies, it was a blessing seeing his name on the class schedule. In my case, he will not be forgotten and in knowing his character, I can promise he fought the right fight. I hope that Lou is remembered properly and is given everything he deserves. This is a tragedy. He will always be in our hearts.

  7. i agree..a traitor is an enemy. i commend you for being so strong. i hope your perseverance brings well deserved results. thank you for representing those that can’t themselves.

  8. How repetitively heartbreaking for you. Needlessly. I am a vet and am sorry for the hoops you’ve been directed to jump through. Why your husband would be excluded we don’t know. What we do know is that the people making these asinine decisions are not likely the same that volunteered to serve and know nothing of the sacrifice. Adding insult to injury (apropos in this case and I’m so saddened by that) is beyond disrespectful. I will pray that you will be vindicated.

    1. Rachel – “Repetitively heartbreaking” – mind if I use that phrase sometime? ha. Thank you for the comment and support – it all gives me a little extra oomph to see this exhausting challenge through:)

  9. I am sorry to hear of your loss! As a veteran, I find this atrocious behavior, but not surprising! Sadly, the animal responsible for your husbands death was prosecuted through the military justice system. And, the military is phenomenal at covering things up and will do everything in their power to keep negative statistics down! I fought the VA for 25 years to get the justice I deserved. Never give up the fight!! Prayers for you and your family!

  10. He was killed by the enemy – only disguised as one of his own. My prayers to you and your family for continued strength. May you find peace and justice soon.

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