WWII Veteran James Lee Allen still active at 92

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
James Lee Allen, US Navy, 1945
Photo submitted

In 1943 when James Lee Allen graduated Cornersville High School, his desire was to join the military and serve his country. WWII had been raging in Europe for four years, and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 had brought the United States into the fight. However, James Lee’s father, Ernest Allen, needed his son’s help on the family farm at Spring Place and insisted that he delay his decision. Later that year after a difficult day of pulling up locust bushes with the aid of a mule team, James Lee declared that the Navy could be no worse than this and went off to join the troops. He and his high school friend, Billy Caruthers, became selective volunteers and chose their branch of service. James Lee went to the Navy, and Billy Caruthers, who was two years younger, joined the Marines. The two men were able to keep in touch through relatives stateside. When James Lee’s ship docked in Guam where Billy was stationed, the two friends were able to meet. A face from home was always the most welcome sight.

Mr. Allen is very modest about his military service. He was assigned to the SS James Oliver as an armed guard. Though he was harbored in the troubled waters of the Pacific, he saw no real action. He insists that the heroes were folks like his friend John Palmer, who was a fighter pilot during the war. This same John Palmer later in 1948 gave James Lee the opportunity to work at the Lewisburg Post Office. This temporary position subbing for Mr. Palmer as a clerk/carrier would years later lead to Mr. Allen’s appointment as the Lewisburg Post Master.

At age 92, Mr. Allen believes he has led a full, productive life. In March of 1947 he married Jean McCord, who had written to him all during the war. Jean McCord Allen passed away this summer leaving a huge void in her husband’s life. They had been married for 70 years. She had never learned to drive and made no apology for this. In fact, in a letter she wrote to her husband on his 54th birthday, Jean tells her husband that this dependency on him for transportation guaranteed her “alone-time” with him and that “alone-time” was the highlight of any day.

As a couple they served the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Lewisburg in numerous capacities, helped take care of the Short Cemetery grounds, which is where his parents are buried, and reared two fine sons in Mike Allen, a retired pharmacist who lives in Nashville, and Steve Allen, a property manager who lives in Lewisburg. Mr. Allen supported the VFW, the American Legion, and the local veterans’ programs. He served as the only Marshall County representative on the Selective Service Board from 1981-2001. Until recently he was one of the dedicated veterans who made sure that individual flags were flying on veterans’ graves during Decoration Day at various county cemeteries. His love for this country runs deep.

Since his wife’s death, Mr. Allen has been living at Village Manor Assisted Living where he is in the company of twelve other veterans who served in various wars or conflicts. He keeps his mind sharp by helping with individual tax returns and by recalling many important events with local historians.

The City of Lewisburg is planning a time of recognition for all living Marshall County WWII veterans at their council meeting on Tuesday, October 10. To date the following WWII living veterans have been identified: Jack Adams, James Lee Allen, Joe Anderson, Odell Armour, Bill Cain, Tommy Cathey, Buford Endsley, Bill Ezell, John Hursh, Paul Jackson, Paul Johnston, Jay Liles, Roy McPherson, Fleming Montgomery, Edmond Nacchio, Warren Nash, Dehota Richards, Herman Thompson, Albert Whitaker, Robert H. Walker, and Robert E. Wilson.

If you know of anyone who needs to be added to this list, please contact Lynda Potts at 931-359-4489.