TUXEDO PARK, NY - The life of a New York National Guard Officer, killed in Tikrit in 2005, was celebrated by his family and friends Friday, Jan. 22, at the high school he once taught at.

Phil Taylor and his wife Lisa, of the American Fallen Soldier Project, presented a custom portrait of 1st Lt. Lou Allen to his wife Barbara and sons Trevor, Collin, Sean and Jeremy, at a special program held at George F. Baker High School here. A copy of the painting will be displayed at the school.

"Your dad was a very special person to us," Principal Denis Petrilak told the Allen children, who were ages 6 to 2 years at the time of their father's death in June 2005.
Petrilak was among the speakers to almost 200 friends, officials, students and soldiers who once served with Allen at the Newburgh armory.

"He was our best teacher and we miss him very much. Everyday he took good care of all of his students and friends and made us laugh," he said. "He told us all how very proud he was of each one of you."

"He was the consummate Citizen Soldier - a National Guardsman, a man that was able to weigh family and country and friends," said comrade Capt. Steve Raiser, a National Guard lawyer who was with Allen in the Headquarters 42nd Infantry Division.

"He deployed to Iraq for many reasons - for patriotism, to support his friend who was already there and having some trouble. He went to help," explained Raiser, who like his late friend deployed as a "filler" to the 42nd mid-mission.

In his remarks, Allen's friend and brother in law Rich Jackson focused on a phrase that appears on Allen's gravestone in the nearby Orange County Cemetery "Lou Rules."

"I created a list of 'Lou's rules' as a way to come to understand his system of life," he said. "The benefits of teaching always outweigh the drawbacks, being a good dad is measured by the love of your children and good behavior, fall in love and let the chips fall where they may, quote every movie like you wrote it, sing every song like you wrote it, treat others like you want to be treated."

Allen died at age 34 along with his friend and company commander Captain Philip Esposito in an explosion that led to charges against another soldier. A murder trial was held at Fort Bragg, NC in the fall of 2008 and ended in an acquittal. Allen had served in the Guard since December 1997, assigned originally to Company D, 1st Battalion 101st Cavalry.

The American Fallen Soldiers Project is a non-profit charity honoring the memory of fallen military personnel by presenting families with custom portraits of their late loved ones at no cost. Taylor has so far completed and presented more than 65 portraits of fallen service personnel across the nation, including five members of the New York Army National Guard.

American Airlines serves as a corporate sponsor and transports the portraits and the artist free of charge from Texas to locations around the country for in-person presentations.