Survivor George Allen Celebrates 95th Birthday

April 13, 2017

At the age of 20, George Allen had been enlisted in the United States armed forces for over a year when he found himself sucked into one of the most devastating days in American history. On December 7th, 1941, the young soldier was assigned to kitchen patrol, an uneventful morning of peeling potatoes that started at 0400. Almost four hours later, everything took a terrible turn; suddenly potatoes were no longer a concern.

Allen had been stationed at Schofield Barracks in central Oahu and though he wasn't on the water when Japan’s attack planes flew in, that didn’t shield him from the destruction. Six decades passed before the aging soldier was willing to talk about the events of that day—or any participation he had in the war—but once he opened up about it in 2006, his tale quickly caught the ear of everyone in range.

Only months after the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, George Allen celebrated his 95th birthday with family and friends at Cleveland’s American Legion Post 81.

Allen on Pearl Harbor

One thing the former Army soldier remains adamant about is that if you weren’t on Oahu during the attack on Pearl Harbor, you could only know a fraction of the story. Often heard chiding films and books about the event presented by people who were distant from the attack, Allen stands steadfast in his belief that “You had to be there, and had to see it, to get it right.”

And he’s not wrong. Only people like Allen and his comrades would know what it looked and felt like to see the V-formation of Japanese Zero planes closing in on their barracks. To have to fight through an immense level of fear when one plane breaks off and starts firing on the building in which, moments earlier, your only concern was a 100-lb bag of spuds.

With no means of protecting themselves, it was all about survival until the attacking planes pulled back and the attack finally ended. While they may not have been in the thick of sinking battleships and giant plumes of smoke, men like Allen are still a part of history, their stories speckled throughout the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor.

After the Attack

When the Japanese finally pulled back and the damage was done, it was time to train for the conflict that lay ahead. At the height of the war, Allen and his fellow soldiers shipped out to Australia, where they participated in six different Pacific invasions. Allen survived the thick of war and was discharged on June 6th, 1945.

Leaving his military career behind, the former soldier turned to something far less life-threatening – a career as a musician. For 40 years, music helped quiet the memories of war and helped the veteran enjoy a normal life.

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