Soldier dies while attempting rescue

May 27, 2008 6:05:38 PM PDT
Friends and fellow soldiers at Fort Bragg are remembering one of their own who died a hero not in combat but in the ocean trying to save someone else.

Private first class Pierre Allen drowned Saturday; his death has hit the members of his unit pretty hard.

Today through tears and smiles, soldiers in the 37th Engineer Battalion unit told Eyewitness News the story of a remarkable young man just beginning his military career, who never fought in combat, but died a hero.

"He was just that type of guy; he really gave a lot of himself in everything he did," said Spec. James Parker.

Eyewitnesses say that is what the 21-year-old combat engineer did Saturday, in Panama Beach, Florida, where he was with friends.

Authorities say he and another man swam out to rescue two children whose floats were being dragged out to sea by strong currents. The children and other man made it to shore.

Allen was swept out to sea by the rip current and drowned; it wasn't until Sunday morning rescue crews recovered his body.

Around his unit at Fort Bragg Tuesday there was shock and sorrow, for a friend who always put others first.

"He was the type of person no matter what. If you needed him out there to put his life in the harm, he would do it," said Sgt. Jerome Combs with the 37th Engineer Battalion.

"Yeah that's him, that's who he was," added Spec. Francesca Rosairo.

Friends say Allen was a legal clerk who dreamed of going back to college to become a lawyer.

He entered the military in November 2006 and arrived to Fort Bragg in October.

"The last jump we had together, we ran off the plane together he looked at me we shook hands and took off running off the plane together," said Spec. Waddell Tillison.

Friends say Allen had a big smile and a big heart, a paratrooper who was always there for you.

That's what his friends and fellow soldiers will always remember and miss most.

"I think what he did was very courageous and outstanding, you couldn't ask for a better, soldier better person," said Spec. Shawn Kemp.

The Water Valley, Miss. native is survived by his wife, LaRhonda, and their four children.

Commanders say Allen was due back from leave this coming Friday. Members of his unit are now planning a memorial service, however, the time and place are yet to be determined.


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