Outside The Wire

Army widow launches White House petition

Barbara Allen has launched a White House petition to get her husband a Purple Heart.

Allen’s husband, 1st Lt. Louis Allen, and Capt. Phillip Esposito were killed eight years ago when an anti-personnel mine detonated in a window of their room at their headquarters in Tikrit, Iraq.

Both officers were assigned to the New York National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division.

One of their soldiers, Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez, was charged and tried on murder charges. He was acquitted in December 2008 in the two officers’ June 7, 2005, deaths.

Since then, Barbara Allen has fought, unsuccessfully, for her husband’s death certificate to be changed to reflect a hostile death, which would qualify him for a Purple Heart.

This summer, Barbara Allen, who wrote a deeply personal memoir titled “Front Toward Enemy,”  is renewing her efforts with the help from some high-profile veterans.

“It has been almost eight years since Lou was killed, and people keep telling me to let it go,” Barbara Allen wrote in an e-mail to Army Times. “I can not let it go, and will not let it go, until Lou’s sacrifice is recognized and steps are taken to prevent other families from experiencing this same loss.”

In her petition on the White House website, Allen calls for the Obama administration to amend the definition of “enemy combatant” or “enemy” to include an “unconventional enemy” subcategory.

“Any American soldier who willfully kills or conspires to kill a fellow American soldier would then be declared an Unconventional Enemy, and all deaths or injuries at the hands of such would be recognized as the result of Hostile Action,” the petition states. “All service member victims would accordingly be awarded the Purple Heart. This change would retroactively apply to all post 9/11 incidents. Identifying such soldiers allows for training that would have prevented needless deaths, and will aid in the prevention of similar deaths.”

In addition to the petition, Allen has enlisted the help of  Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam veteran John Baca and several other Vietnam vets. The men will kick off the cross-country “Run for the Wall” ride in a van decked out with pictures of the Allen family and encourage people to go online to sign the White House petition.

For more information, visit Barbara’s website or the site for “Front Toward Enemy.”

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