The Allen Family Heritage in Military Bands
Military bands were part of my life long before I joined the Army. My father, Colonel Gene Allen, is the
former Leader and now Conductor Emeritus of The United States Army Band (Pershing's Own) in Washington, D.C.
His father, Joseph Flannery Allen (in the white uniform
in the photo to the left), was a self-taught band director and music educator in Texas. All of Joseph's children learned
to play an instrument, and the tradition of service in military bands was started by my dad's oldest brother, Vernon,
who was a member of the Marine band at Parris Island.
Three of my dad's brothers also served in bands during World War II. Jay was with the 6th Infantry
Division Band before he went on to West Point and a career as an Air Force pilot; Alan served with a National Guard Band in
Iceland; and Athan was with the 1st Armored Division Band in North Africa and North Italy. As a musician who had served in
a combat zone, Athan qualified to become a charter member of The U.S. Army Field Band, and later became a warrant officer
and served as a bandmaster until his retirement in 1956.
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