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Thad Allen
Born January 16, 1949(1949-01-16) (age 71)
Place of birth Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Coast Guard
Years of service 1971–2010
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held Commandant of the Coast Guard
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command
Battles/wars September 11 attacks
Awards Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal (3)

Thad William Allen (born January 16, 1949) is a retired United States Coast Guard admiral who served as the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard. Allen is best known for his widely praised[1][2][3] performance directing the federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast region from September 2005 to January 2006, and for his 2010 work as National Incident Commander of the Unified Command for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Robert J. Papp, Jr. succeeded him as Commandant on May 25, 2010, in a change of command ceremony.

Allen officially retired from the U.S. Coast Guard on June 30, 2010, but for 36 days continued in his role as Deepwater Horizon National Incident Commander. He is a Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton.[4]

Early life and education[edit | edit source]

Allen was born in Tucson, Arizona, the son of retired Coast Guard Chief Damage Controlman Clyde and Mrs. Wilma Allen. His father is a World War II veteran. Allen is a 1967 graduate of Palo Verde High School in Tucson. His family moved frequently during his childhood with his father's assignments. He attended the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where he was a standout football player, graduating in 1971.[5] He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from George Washington University and a Master's degree in Management (S.M.) from the MIT Sloan School of Management as a Sloan Fellow.[6]

Career[edit | edit source]

Operational assignments[edit | edit source]

File:Crew of LORAN Station Lampang 1975.jpg

Admiral Thad Allen, then a Lieutenant, poses with his crew on 22 August 1975 (front row, second from the right). Allen was the last commanding officer of LORAN Station Lampang, Thailand. Station Lampang was part of the LORAN chain first put into use as part of “Operation Tight Reign” in support of military operations in Vietnam.

In his four decades of service, Allen has held operational command both at sea and ashore, conducting missions to support the maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship interests of the nation. He served aboard USCGC Androscoggin (WHEC-68), and USCGC Gallatin (WHEC-721) and commanded USCGC Citrus (WLB-300). He performed dual roles as Commanding Officer of Group Long Island Sound and Captain of the Port, and he commanded Group Atlantic City and LORAN Station Lampang, Thailand[6] from 1974 to 1975.[7] He also commanded the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami and the Atlantic Area in Portsmouth, Va.[8]

Flag officer[edit | edit source]

Allen's first assignment as a flag officer was as Director of Resources at Coast Guard Headquarters then Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District, where he directed all operations in the Southeastern United States and Caribbean. Following that assignment he served as Commander, Atlantic Area and U.S. Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic. In this capacity he oversaw all Coast Guard operations on the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast, and Great Lakes in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Allen served as the Coast Guard's Chief of Staff from May 2002 until May 2006. As Chief of Staff, Allen was third in the Coast Guard's command structure, and was commanding officer of Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.[6]

Allen is a member of the Coast Guard Academy Board of Trustees. He was also the director of the bureaucratic transition of the Coast Guard from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security.

Hurricane Katrina[edit | edit source]

On September 5, 2005, while serving as Coast Guard Chief of Staff, Allen was appointed deputy to Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and placed in charge of Hurricane Katrina search-and-rescue and recovery efforts. Former colleagues interviewed after the announcement praised Allen as well-suited to the task.[2]

On September 9, 2005, Allen was given full command of the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina onsite relief efforts. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff elevated Allen following the removal of Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown from that position. Allen announced on January 25 that he would be relieved of this responsibility on January 27, 2006.[9]

Commandant[edit | edit source]

Allen assumed the duties of the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard on May 25, 2006.[8] He was appointed to a four-year term by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate.[10] Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr. succeeded him as Commandant on May 25, 2010, in a change of command ceremony.[11]

Deepwater Horizon oil spill[edit | edit source]

On April 30, 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that Allen would serve as the National Incident Commander for the federal government's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.[12] Even after his end of service as Commandant on May 25, 2010, Allen continued to serve as National Incident Commander, first as an Admiral on active duty, and then later as a DHS official.[13]

Retirement[edit | edit source]

On June 30, 2010, Admiral Thad Allen officially retired from the U.S. Coast Guard. His official portrait, painted by artist Michele Rushworth was unveiled at that time at Fort Lesley J. McNair.

Admiral Thad Allen official U.S. Coast Guard portrait painting by Michele Rushworth

He continued to serve as the Deepwater Horizon National Incident Commander until October 1, when that position was disestablished.[14] Later that month, Allen joined the RAND Corporation as a senior fellow.[15] On November 28, 2011, Booz Allen Hamilton named Thad Allen a Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton. Allen joined the firm’s Justice and Homeland Security business and will lead development of thought leadership and client engagement regarding the direction of law enforcement and Homeland Security.[16]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Allen resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with his wife Pamela A. Hess, whom he married in October 1975. They have three children and two grandchildren.[8] He was elected a National Academy of Public Administration (United States) Fellow in 2003.[8]

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

USCG - Boat Force Operations Advanced BW.pngAdvanced Boat Force Operations Insignia
USCGCO.jpgCutterman Insignia
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svgOffice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
Gold star
Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal with gold award star[17][18][19]
Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal[17]
Gold star
Gold star
Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal with 2 gold award stars
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit
Gold star
Gold star
Meritorious Service Medal with 2 gold award stars
Gold star
Gold star
Coast Guard Commendation Medal with 2 gold award stars and Operational Distinguishing Device
9-11 Medal ribbon.svg Transportation 9-11 Medal
Gold star
Coast Guard Achievement Medal with gold award star and "O" device
Gold star
Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon with 1 award star
Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation with "hurricane symbol"
Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award
Coast Guard Unit Commendation with 1 award star and "O" device
Gold star
Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 award star
Meritorious Team Commendation
Gold star
Coast Guard "E" Ribbon with 1 award star
Bicentennial Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Coast Guard Bicentennial Unit Commendation
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with 2 bronze service stars
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal ribbon.svg Armed Forces Service Medal
Bronze star
Humanitarian Service Medal with 1 service star
Bronze star
Special Operations Service Ribbon with 1 service star
Bronze star
Sea Service Ribbon with 1 service star
Restricted Duty Ribbon.svg Restricted Duty Ribbon
Coast Guard Expert Rifleman Ribbon.png Expert Rifle Marksmanship Medal
USCG Expert Pistol Ribbon.png Expert Pistol Marksmanship Medal

Allen's civilian awards include the 2006 Strategic Vision Award by the Global Strategy Institute (GSI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In 2009, he was awarded the Admiral Of The Ocean Sea Award (AOTOS) from the United Seaman's Service and the 2009 Business Achievement Award given by Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honor society affiliated with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. He was nominated for this award by the United States Coast Guard Academy.[20] Allen, in May 2013, also received a Ph.D. in public service honoris causa from the George Washington University.[21]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. http://www.military.com/news/article/adm-allen-in-hot-seat-over-oil-spill.html?ESRC=topstories.RSS
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Coast Guard's Chief of Staff To Assist FEMA Head Brown", Washington Post, September 7, 2005
  3. Transcript of C-Span interview
  4. "Booz Allen Names Admiral Thad Allen as Senior Vice President," Booz Allen Hamilton website, Nov 28, 2011: http://www.boozallen.com/media-center/press-releases/48399320/thad-allen-named-senior-vice-president
  5. White, Josh (2005-09-07). "Coast Guard's Chief of Staff To Assist FEMA Head Brown". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/06/AR2005090601677.html?referrer=email. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Official biography, USCG website
  7. "Loran Station Lampang." Loran History Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2010. <http://www.loran-history.info/lampang/lampang.htm>.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Impact of Ice-Dimishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations". Summary Report. National Ice Center and United States Arctic Research Commission. 2007. p. 56. http://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/star/documents/2007IceSymp/Summary_Report_2007.pdf. Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  9. Speech at Coast Guard Station Washington, D.C, January 25, 2006
  10. Commandant's Corner, USCG Website
  11. Papp Nominated To Be Next Coast Guard Commandant http://hamptonroads.com/2009/12/obama-nominates-portsmouthbased-vice-adm-be-next-coast-guard-commandant
  12. Thad Allen named National Incident Commander for Deepwater Horizon spill
  13. Change of Command: Commandant of the Coast Guard
  14. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2010/2010-10-01-092.html
  15. http://www.rand.org/about/people/a/allen_thad_w.html#overview
  16. http://www.boozallen.com/media-center/press-releases/48399320/thad-allen-named-senior-vice-president
  17. 17.0 17.1 Navy Times dated 25 May 2010
  18. Washington Post dated May 11, 2006
  19. Gold award star per COMDTINST M1650.25D, Table 1
  20. "Ethical Business Leadership" in Beta Gamma Sigma International Exchange, Vol. 8 No. 2 (2009 Summer), p. 3.
  21. [1]

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas Collins
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Succeeded by
Robert Papp

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