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Terry de la Mesa Allen Jr.

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Terry de la Mesa Allen Jr.
Terry Allen Jr..jpg
From left to right: Major James Shelton, Lieutenant Colonel Terry Allen Jr. and Command Sergeant Major Francis Dowling posed for a photograph. Both Allen and Dowling were killed on Tuesday 17 October 1967.
Born1929 (1929)
El Paso, Texas
Died17 October 1967(1967-10-17) (aged 38)
near Lai Khe, Chơn Thành District, Bình Dương Province, Vietnam
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchEmblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service1952-1967
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Unit2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division
Battles/warsVietnam War
  • Battle of Ong Thanh  
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross (United States)[1]
Spouse(s)Jean Ponder

Terry de la Mesa Allen Jr. (1929–1967), son of retired U.S. Army Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen Sr., was a fourth-generation soldier. He achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. He served with the 1st Infantry Division, which his father had commanded with distinction during World War II. Allen was killed in an ambush in South Vietnam on Tuesday 17 October 1967 while leading his battalion against the Viet Cong near Lai Khe, northwest of Saigon at the Battle of Ong Thanh.

Military career[edit]

Under steady pressure from superiors to forcefully engage the enemy, Allen, in what has been called an "ill-advised action", took two rifle companies, "A" and "D" on an attempt to contact hostile Viet Cong forces.[2]

These two rifle companies ran into an ambush by two much larger Viet Cong battalions that lay in wait along the trail. The Viet Cong forces allowed the lead company, Bravo, to walk past the second of two enemy battalions lying alongside the road as close as 10 meters away. Bravo Company continued up the trail and walked along the 1st of the two battalions which opened fire on them, killing or wounding the entire force including LTC Allen and his CSM Francis Dowling, who was later found lying entirely over the top of his commander. After all but eliminating Alpha Company, the Viet Cong 2d battalion assaulted Delta Company, killing or wounding many of the remaining Americans.[3]

He posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross for this action.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Allen was married to Jean Ponder of El Paso and had 3 children: Consuelo, Alice ("Bebe"), and Mary Frances.


An account of the Battle of Ong Thanh is detailed in the best-selling They Marched into Sunlight, a book by David Maraniss. The book was turned into the PBS documentary Two Days in October,[5] which was broadcast by the BBC as How Vietnam Was Lost.[6]

See also[edit]

  • Don Holleder


  1. "Valor awards for Terry DeLaMesa Allen , Jr". Military Times.
  2. "Terry De La Mesa Allen, Jr". The Virtual Wall.
  3. Video - The battle of Ong Thanh on YouTube
  4. "Valor awards for Terry DeLaMesa Allen , Jr". Military Times.
  5. "American Experience - Two Days in October - PBS". PBS.org.
  6. Video - How Vietnam Was Lost on YouTube

External links[edit]

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