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First Name: Terry

Last Name: Allen

Birthplace: El Paso, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: de la Mesa

Date of Birth: 13 April 1929

Date of Death: 17 October 1967

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served: 1952 - 1967
Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr.

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1952

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr.
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr. was born on 13 April 1929 in El Paso, TX. He was the son of Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr. (U.S. Army, Ret.) and Mary Frances Robinson Allen. A fourth generation soldier, Terry had achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army.

Lieutenant Colonel Allen was killed in an ambush in South Vietnam on 17 October 1967, while leading his battalion against the Viet Cong in Binh Long Province, northwest of Saigon, in the Battle of Ong Thanh. Terry died from multiple fragmentation wounds.

For his heroic actions on the day that he was killed, Allen was posthumously awarded the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

Distinguished Service Cross

Citation: For extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Lieutenant Colonel Allen distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 17 October 1967 while serving as Commanding Officer of an infantry battalion on a search and destroy operation near Chon Thanh. While moving to locate a suspected enemy base camp, a forward patrol of his unit detected a lone Viet Cong soldier and noises that indicated others were in the area. The element immediately deployed in an attempt to engage the insurgents. It was suddenly attacked by a large enemy force, and Colonel Allen quickly positioned the remainder of his men in a defensive perimeter, established radio contact with the beleaguered patrol, and ordered its withdrawal to his position so that artillery and air strikes could be directed on the hostile positions. As the forward element began to pull back, the main force's flank was savagely attacked with devastating automatic weapons, rocket and claymore weapons fire. Completely disregarding his personal safety, Colonel Allen repeatedly exposed himself to the withering barrage and moved among his men, skillfully directing the defenses and encouraging his troops to fight fiercely against the determined attackers. Accurate concentrations of enemy fire inflicted numerous casualties to his men and he was seriously wounded himself, but he refused medical attention and remained in the open to control the defenses and the movement of the forward element which was still attempting to join his main force. He was mortally wounded while gallantly leading his men in the face of overwhelming odds. His fearless actions in the heat of battle inspired his unit to staunchly defend its critical position until reinforcements arrived and the hostile forces were decisively defeated. Lieutenant Colonel Allen's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

At the time of his death, Lieutenant Colonel Allen was Commander, 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. His father had served as Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division in World War II.

Terry was 38 years old and had served his country for over 14 years.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Air Medal with Award Numeral 8
Army Commendation Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
National Defense Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge


Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr.'s name is inscribed on Panel 28E, Line 018 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.


Terry married Jean Ponder of El Paso and they had 3 children; Mary, Consuelo, and Alice.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Colonel Terry de la Mesa Allen, Jr. was killed in action on 17 October 1967 in the Republic of Vietnam. His body was recovered and he is buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, TX.

His father, Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr., was buried beside his son after his death on 12 September 1969.

Battle of Ong Thanh

The 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry had been operating west of the village of Chon Thanh since 8 October, conducting "search and destroy" operations in an area known to be occupied by large Viet Cong forces. Only four of the battalion's five companies (HHC, A, B, and D) were involved; C Company was providing fire base security for the supporting artillery unit.

D Company had engaged a large enemy force on 16 October directly south of the Battalion's night defensive position, killing at least 30 VC soldiers with direct fire, mortars, and artillery at the cost of only four men wounded in action. Captain Bernard F. Jones, a MACV Advisor with a Vietnamese Provincial reconnaissance unit attached to D Company, was killed in the action. In the late afternoon the 2/28 elements withdrew to the Battalion position.

LTC Terry Allen, commanding 2/28, set his plans for 17 October based on a two-company search-and-destroy operation led by A Company with the Battalion Command Group and D Company in trail. The two companies would be protected by artillery "marching fire" to its front and flanks.

On the morning of 17 October, Alpha Company, with a total of 65 men, led out from the night defensive perimeter moving south toward the area where the 16 October fight had occurred. D Company, with 73 men and the command group, followed in trail. A Company was moving very cautiously, with point and flank patrols; by late morning the force had moved only about 1200 meters. Shortly before noon Alpha was engaged by a much larger enemy force.

The action took place in heavy jungle west of the Village of Chon Thanh (Highway 13) in Binh Long Province. Although considered the dry season, it was humid and moist with daytime temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. The double canopy jungle was in relatively flat ground surrounded by intermittent streams (such as Suoi Ong-Thanh), which flowed south and west.

The opposing force consisted of two battalions of the 271st VC Regiment (300-400 or more soldiers). The VC had suffered heavy losses in an engagement with the 1/18 Infantry on 6-10 October and the firefight with Delta 2/28 the previous day. They had withdrawn to a base camp called the "Long Nuguyen Secret Zone" to refit and rearm. The VC did have plentiful supplies of ammunition for AK-47 rifles, RPD machine guns, some captured .50 caliber machine guns, perhaps some Chinese 12.7 mm heavy machine guns, Chicom claymores, and many RPGs.

The action was initiated when the Alpha Company point reported sighting a small group of enemy soldiers moving across their front. CPT George, Alpha's commander, ordered a hasty ambush. As the ambush force moved forward they were engaged by a heavy volume of automatic weapons fire and Claymore mines. The friendly force was not so much surprised by the enemy fire as they were overwhelmed by it. Two platoon leaders were immediately killed, and within 15 minutes, after trying to regain control of the situation, CPT George was blinded, deafened and wounded by an enemy Claymore while attempting to personally attack an enemy machine gun with hand grenades. Alpha's First Sergeant moved forward, retrieved CPT George, and led CPT George east away from the enemy fire which coming from the west. This action, while saving CPT George, left A Company leaderless. Practically every man in A Company was killed or wounded in the first 30 minutes of action.

D Company, commanded by 1LT Welch, formed a perimeter around the battalion command group. LTC Allen had no radio contact with A Company, and enemy fire was now hitting D Company. LTC Allen directed 1LT Welch to move forward to contact with A Company. 1LT Welch moved part of Delta forward, but found only Alpha's dead and wounded rather than a fighting force. Welch then directed a fighting withdrawal to the Delta perimeter, collecting as many of Alpha's wounded as possible. LTC Allen was on the radio requesting air strikes when Welch reported that it appeared that A Company had ceased to exist as an effective fighting force. Delta pulled into a tight perimeter approximately 60 feet in diameter and prepared to defend itself.

Enemy fire was heavy, with small arms, machine guns, and RPGs chopping through the underbrush into the Delta position. It became apparent that the enemy was maneuvering around both sides of the Delta perimeter, intent on destroying the Americans. LTC Allen was desperately trying to direct air strikes against the enemy, but they were ineffective due to the nature of the double-canopy jungle and the proximity of friend and foe. Delta's Artillery Forward Observer, 2LT Durham, brought artillery fire closer into his position while avoiding the area to Delta's front where Alpha's dead and wounded were laying in the jungle. Enemy soldiers were already maneuvering through that location, killing any Alpha Company wounded they found.

Practically all the D company radios had been destroyed or damaged by enemy fire and radio communications were maintained only by gathering damaged radios so they could be cannibalized. 2LT Durham, the artillery forward observer, was protecting his artillery net radio with his body while operating his radio handset to talk with the stub of his wrist, as his hand had been blown off by enemy fire. He continued to adjust the artillery fire more closely in, still smiling and calling to both 1LT Welch and Delta's First Sergeant.

At this point LTC Allen ordered 1LT Welch to withdraw along their ingress route, but doing so would have required abandoning the wounded and Welch ignored the order. Enemy fire continued to hit the Delta perimeter from three directions and casualties continued to mount.

At about 1400, some 2-1/2 hours after the contact began, a relief force fought its way to the Delta perimeter. By that time LTC Allen and everyone in the Battalion Command Group was dead, Alpha was destroyed, and Delta was more than decimated.

The battle at Ong Thanh resulted in the loss of at least 60 Americans - 55 killed in the action, 2 missing, and 3 who would die of their wounds. The VC left 163 bodies on the battlefield.

Honoree ID: 2057   Created by: MHOH




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