By Kirstin Grace-Simons (Madigan Army Medical Center)October 16, 2019
MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- In a fitting tribute to a combat medic who was widely known as "a Soldier's medic," Kathy West and David Allen joined Madigan Army Medical Center Commander Col. Thomas Bundt, Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Laragione and Maj. Aaron Cross, the executive officer for the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, as they unveiled the sign for the newly renamed Staff Sgt. Charles D. Allen Soldier-Centered Medical Home on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., in a ceremony honoring their son on Oct. 8. Allen was killed by sniper fire in Iraq in 2007, the only combat medic from the 1-2 SBCT to be killed in action.
In addition to Allen's parents, his widow Kerensa and other family, friends and members of his units attended the memorialization ceremony. One of them, Sgt. 1st Class Adam Schwartz, was a friend who was deployed with Allen and worked the last dozen years to realize this commemoration for his battle buddy.
"There was never a doubt his purpose in life was to serve the country he loved for the family he cherished," said Schwartz. "He was deeply respected by his subordinates, peers and superiors."
Cross acknowledged Allen's enduring impact on the unit.
"His level of commitment, determination and drive to be the best inspired all those around him. Although he is not here with us today, Staff Sgt. Allen's spirit lives on in through medics within our ranks," he said. "In all that we do, we will continue to strive to live up to the level of professionalism and compassion that Staff Sgt. Allen set before us."
Bundt spoke of the vital role the combat medic plays in and out of battle.
"These individuals are not simply emergency medical technicians; they are evacuation specialists, medical assistants, phlebotomists, pharmacists, office managers, schedulers, and for all my friends out there -- incredible mechanics," he said. "That is an all can do MOS, is it not?"
Bundt asked the combat medics, or as he said, the "68 whiskeys," in the crowd to stand and be recognized for the service their military occupational specialty provides all service members, especially in the heat of battle.
Bundt added, "They are extenders of our medical philosophy; and they are the heart and soul, in my opinion, of our formations. It's all great until the bullets start flying and the first person gets hit. Then it's all about the medic."
After Jeffrey Brownell, the clinical officer-in-charge of the Allen SCMH, and a retired Army physician assistant himself, invited West, Allen and the leaders to unveil the sign, West shared her gratitude for the recognition of her son.
"I'd like to tell you how much this means to me; it's such an honor. To see so many people that served with him and loved him as much as I do, to be here today. Thank you; and thank you, Adam for all that you've done to put this together," she said.