Veterans Spotlight: James Allison – Iraq War veteran – Newhall resident


James Allison was born July 13, 1983 at Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia. He attended Meadows Elementary, Placerita Junior High and Hart High School, graduating June 2001. James Allison is a genuine homegrown Santa Clarita boy and a great American.

Prior to graduating from Hart, James joined the US Marine Corps through its “delayed entry program” and entered its Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on Sept. 10, 2001 in Los Angeles. Think about that for a minute. From a Hart High School flute player, James headed to the infantry. Due to a paperwork snafu, his move to Camp Pendleton was delayed; while at MEPS, he and his fellow newly minted Marines watched the tragic events of 9/11 unfold on television. At age 18, James immediately realized that he was headed for an experience of a lifetime.

Sept. 12, 2001, James arrived at Camp Pendleton for boot camp and rigorous infantry training. During four weeks at the School of Infantry he became a tow gunner (wire guided missiles) with the 1st/5th Marines Infantry Battalion. After 10 months of training, James’ unit was ordered to Japan – a peace- time mission, but their orders changed to a combat mission. February 2003, the 1st/5th Marines flew to Kuwait, and one month later James was on the road to Baghdad. Their convoy traveled the highway where during 1991’s Operation Desert Storm, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf’s troops obliterated Saddam Hussein’s military after they plundered Kuwait.

James and his fellow Marines crossed into Iraq March 20, 2003, with orders to capture one of Saddam’s opulent palaces. As they crossed into Iraq, James felt apprehensive about combat, yet he had a positive attitude on their prospects of eliminating a brutal dictator and his two disgusting sons who persecuted their own people and smugly supported terrorism.

On the road to Baghdad, James’ unit engaged Saddam loyalists in several intense firefights suffering one killed in action and six wounded. They kept moving. As the forward Marine Expeditionary Unit, they battled enemy forces capturing Saddam’s Presidential Palace April 10 losing three Marines killed and 40 wounded.

Once Saddam’s forces were defeated and the palace taken, Iraqi citizens poured into the streets rejoicing and celebrating the Marines for their bravery and sacrifice. Those Iraqis felt their very first sense of freedom.

In July, James’ unit made their way back to Kuwait and then to March Air Force Base, where they were celebrated by an Air Force band, veterans, politicians, support groups, and family members. American flags were everywhere; these Marines were proud having served their country so well.

January 2004, James was back in Baghdad for his second tour of duty. At age 20, he fought in the first Battle of Fallujah. This occurred when those four contractors were captured, hung from a bridge and burned by Saddam’s forces. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein was on the run and the War in Iraq became an “IED War” much like when the Vietnam War became a “Booby Trap War” after the 1968 Tet Offensive. James’ Humvee was hit twice with IEDs exploding right beneath them throwing their Humvee in the air, but amazingly, no Marine was hurt other than deafening ringing in their ears.

July 2004, James was back at Camp Pendleton until February 2005 when he returned to Baghdad for his third tour of duty. Soon, he was patrolling Ramadi and now he had fought in all three points of the Sunni Triangle. On March 20, 2005, while on foot patrol in Ramadi, a firefight erupted and James was seriously wounded by enemy mortar fire. A chunk of jagged shrapnel ripped into his left leg. His corpsman promptly bandaged and med-evacuated him to Baghdad for his first surgery; James’ second surgery was in Frankfurt, Germany and his final surgery at Camp Pendleton where he was hospitalized for a month.

After five months of intense physical therapy, James headed home and honorably discharged Sept. 11, 2005. James, a proud Marine, said “my only regret is that I didn’t do more.” His awards: Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, National Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (with one star).

Back home, James took several jobs but through his GI bill he attended California State University, Northridge majoring in recreation and tourism management, graduating June 2011. James was one of three graduates recognized – he, as their Outstanding Veteran. They read his Marine Corps service, and for James, this was his proudest day ever.

Having worked for Habitat for Humanity, 1st Presbyterian Church of Newhall as associate youth director, and building homes for the poor in impoverished countries, James is driven to help people. James’ next adventure: attend Fuller Seminary in Pasadena where he will become a missionary.

Bill Reynolds is one of the “Boys of ’67,” Charlie Company, 4th/47th, 9th Infantry Division and is the director of Veterans Affairs for The Signal.

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