Nederland, Texas, US
HM2, VFA-137, Lemoore, CA
8/16/2008, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
For three minutes Sunday afternoon, almost 100 mourners at the Farmer Funeral Home were taken to the kitchen of Athan and Catherine Allen and watched as the two danced to their song, “It’s Your Love,” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
“Thanks for showing me true love,” Catherine wrote in a letter to her husband, U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Hospital Corpsman Athan Allen, 26, who died Aug. 16 in his barracks while on a training assignment in Alaska.
Catherine wrote in the letter that whenever she came home and was having a bad day, Athan would play their song and the two would dance in the kitchen, and suddenly, Catherine’s day wasn’t so bad. “I’ll miss your goofy grin,” she continued in the letter. “I love you with all my heart.” The couple also have a 2-year-old daughter, Cailey.
The Navy has not disclosed Allen’s cause of death, other than to say he died “from a lack of oxygen to his brain. The 45-minute service at the Farmer Funeral Home included tears, fond memories and a sprinkle of laughter mixed throughout as friends of Athan spoke about “the perfect person.”
“Athan could bring a smile to your face even if somebody ran over your dog that day,” said longtime Navy friend Tre Elder, who, along with Tony Kuskie, spent two years with Allen in Pensacola, Fla., for medical aviation training. Micah Howell, a childhood friend of Allen’s who graduated in 2000 from Nederland High School with the 7-year Navy veteran, delivered the eulogy.
“Athan came over for nothing more than to be a friend,” Howell said of Allen. The two lived a few houses away from each other in Nederland.
“He was always there for you,” Howell said. Kuskie and Elder also spoke of the kind and loyal friend Allen was. “He was just so generous,” Elder said. “And it didn’t matter if he had anything to give, he’d give it to you.” Kuskie and Elder, who like Allen were hospital corpsmen, also spoke of the kind of sailor he was. “He gave it the attention, respect and focus (the Navy) deserved,” Kuskie said, adding that Allen was a “lifer,” intent on giving the mandatory 20 years necessary for military retirement.
“He said he was going to be a Master Chief,” Elder said, referring to an E-9, the Navy’s highest enlisted rank. Allen, named after his grandfather, was laid to rest next to him at Resthaven Cemetery in Silsbee.
Allen’s wife, mother and grandmother were all presented with U.S. flags at the cemetery where the Honor Guard from the Navy Operational Support Center in Houston presented Allen with a 3-gun volley. Troy Fillmore, a third class petty officer and aircrew survival equipment man, who was stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Base in Lemoore, Calif., in squadron VFA 137 with Allen, said he’ll miss the port calls the two made together as well as Allen’s company.
“He’s the best friend I ever knew,” Fillmore said.