MSGT John Edward Allen
July 23, 1929 – July 30, 2013
A resident of New Mexico after retiring, Mr. Allen was drafted into the Army Air Forces right out of high school in Live Oak, Fla., in 1945. At 17, he was assigned to the 332d Fighter Wing of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group that broke racial barriers in World War II by becoming the first black aviators in the US military.
He did not see combat in World War II, but he later received the Air Force Commendation Medal for assisting in de-arming two dozen 500-pound bombs that were dropped from the wing of a B-52 being prepared for a Vietnam War mission.
In addition, Mr. Allen and about 300 original Tuskegee Airmen were awarded a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
After retiring, the Rio Rancho resident was a sought-after speaker across New Mexico and founded in 2000 a local arm for the General Lloyd W. ‘‘Fig’’ Newton chapter of the Tuskegee Airman.
‘‘History speaks for itself,’’ Harold Bailey, president of the NAACP’s Albuquerque chapter, said. ‘‘He was a role model, not only for African-Americans, but for all Americans in general.’’
Despite his accomplishments, Mr. Allen rarely talked about them unless he was asked, said his wife, Willie E. Allen.
‘‘I didn’t even know his was a Tuskegee Airman until after we were married,’’ she said. ‘‘When I found out, I started reading all about the Tuskegee Airmen. I was so proud of him.’’
His wife said her husband also hardly talked about the racial discrimination he faced in his early days in the military and refused to carry any anger.