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The Inspiring Story of Allen Dean: Artist and WWII Veteran

U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 09/16/1942 – 11/27/1945
AA Automatic Weapons Unit Commander, 531 AAA (AW) BN, 30th Infantry Division

Allen was born at home in Colfax, Louisiana, one of three children of Preston Allen Dean, Sr., and Addie Swafford Dean. While his father raised cattle, maintained a peach orchard, and farmed and sold vegetables to a restaurant, Allen’s mother sold butter, eggs, milk, and cream cheese, using the proceeds to buy the children clothes from Montgomery Ward. While Allen worked in the fields and the garden on the farm, the family saw he was a budding artist. As a teenager, he took a correspondence course in art and graduated from Colfax High School in 1932. He attended Louisiana Normal College (now Northwestern State University) in Natchitoches, then hitchhiked to LSU, where he majored in government “because I wanted to do editorial cartoons for the newspaper someday,” he recalls. After graduating in 1937, he spent “a year and a summer” at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In September of 1938, he began working as an editorial cartoonist at The Shreveport Times, where he signed his cartoon “Pap,” a nickname since childhood. In 1940 he married Doris Moore. (They would have three children.) He joined the US Army on September 16, 1942, and took basic training at Fort Beauregard, then was sent to finance school at Boca Raton, Florida. Preferring not to serve in a clerical position, he requested a transfer and was sent to antiaircraft training at Camp Davis in North Carolina, where he took special courses in 40-mm gunnery and training on the 50-caliber machine gun. He was sent to Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, then Fort Meade, Maryland, where he helped design infiltration courses. Allen sailed to Glasgow, Scotland, on the SS Queen Elizabeth, by then a sergeant. Aboard, he was put in charge of 100 men manning antiaircraft guns. He arrived in Great Britain on June 6, 1944, was sent by train to Southampton, and then shipped to Omaha Beach. There he landed three days after the D-Day invasion or D+3. He was assigned to the 531st AAA (AW) Battalion of the 30th Infantry Division in France. His battalion was assigned to give air protection to three regiments. Promoted to second lieutenant, Allen worked as S1 in battalion headquarters and was a platoon leader in B Battery. As a public relations officer, he wrote news releases for hometown newspapers of men in his battalion and edited and illustrated the battalion’s history. Allen served in campaigns through Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland and Central Europe. One of his vivid memories is witnessing the scene of the infamous Malmedy Massacre. He earned five bronze stars. Allen was discharged on November 27, 1945, and returned to The Shreveport Times as an editorial cartoonist. Doris passed away in 1982. In the late 1980s, Allen married Jimmie Straughan Smith. He has four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and two step-great-grandchildren. He and Jimmie live in Colfax in a log home they built, where he maintains a studio.

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