County man receives purple heart
Across the Pacific during the island-hopping campaigns of World War II, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz said that "uncommon valor was a common virtue," among the Marines who were storming the beaches occupied by deeply entrenched forces of the Empire of Japan.
Nowhere was this sentiment more clearly demonstrated than on the beaches of Iwo Jima by long-time Castle Valley resident Don Allred. His valor was formally recognized on Feb. 9 by a contingency of Marine officers who bestowed the Parkdale resident with a Purple Heart nearly 70 years after Allred's service on the field of battle concluded.
According to American Legion Post 73 Commander Ray Quinn, Allred was on the beaches of Iwo Jima as United States forces were fighting through a dense network of bunkers and hidden artillery positions on the small island.
"His company was surrounded by enemy forces," explained Quinn, detailing the actions which would lead to Allred's Purple Heart. "They had ran out of ammunition and needed someone to retrieve additional firepower. Well, Allred was noted to be a fast runner and he weaved his way back through enemy fire to the munitions dump, picked up all the ammo he could carry and faced enemy fire again to get back to his company."
Quinn reported that Allred was injured during his trek through enemy fire but continued on his course and was able to provide the fire power needed to let his company fight their way to safety.
"Because of men like Don, the Marines were victorious," continued Quinn. "His actions are the actions of a real hero."
During the ceremony at Parkdale Health and Rehab, Allred was honored by several past and present military officers. The event culminated as he was pinned with his own Purple Heart.
Military personnel participating in the ceremony were Major General Jefferson S. Burton, Adjutant General of the State of Utah, Blake Jones, the event's guest of honor, Commander Quinn and several other state military officials.
"We are so grateful to have a man like Don Allred to be able to recognize," said Burton, who spoke before the award was given. "We only regret that it took so long to get it to you. This is an American hero right here."
According to Burton, the intensity of the combat on Iwo Jima has never been surpassed and Allred's actions during such vicious warfare are simply incredible.
"The ancient Spartans in Greece had a metaphor that they used for the way that they protected their citizens," said Burton, describing the honor shown by Allred's actions. "They said, this is my shield but it is not mine alone. It protects my brother on my left, it protects my city. I will die with my shield facing the enemy. In a very real sense, Don was a shield for our country and our citizens. He put his body between us and a very intense enemy. We are very proud of him and the fact that he was able to come home and raise such a beautiful family."
In addition to his service on Iwo Jima, Allred was also part of the contingency which took Guam back from Japanese forces. He was drafted into the Marines at the age of 18 and achieved the position of number one machine gunner within his company as the battle of Iwo Jima began.
The Purple Heart is United States military decoration awarded to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917. Rather than being recommended for the honor as is the case with many military awards, Purple Hearts are only given to those who meet specific and rigid criteria.
Even though Allred's injuries were serious and caused him to suffer major hearing loss due to a severe concussion, the Emery County native was able to create a wonderful life and a large family upon his return to the states.
"My brother was meticulous in everything he did," explained Allred's sister Edyth Wakefield. "He wanted to be top notch in all his endeavors and he usually succeeded. He was a great ball player when we were young. He was a great coal miner. Even with farming he was able to make great things happen. He always gave his full effort."
According to his family and friends, Allred is a strong believer in everything unions stand for and is a member of the United Mine Workers of America to this day. In addition to working in the mines, he spent time with several oil companies in the Dakotas and worked his own farm land in Cleveland Township in Emery County following the war.