2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2011 – During an earlier deployment to Iraq, Marine Corps Master Sgt. Robert Allen wrote and recorded a song for his wife, Carla, and sent it to her on Christmas Eve.
“She said she bawled her eyes out when she heard it,” Allen said. “My wife can’t stand it at all when I leave, but she understands what I do. She understands being a Marine is not just my job, it’s my passion.”
Allen can be seen playing his guitar and singing, “A Marine’s Christmas Song,” on YouTube. He said his song salutes military members and their families who endure separations during the holidays.
This year, Allen is serving in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He’s the aircraft rescue firefighting chief for Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, based out of Camp Leatherneck.
Allen’s squadron, deployed from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., provides aviation ground support for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), the aviation combat element for the southwestern regional command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, which encompasses Helmand and Nimruz provinces, where the Marines have centered their counterinsurgency operations.
“I joined the Marine Corps to make a difference and to be part of a force that protects my country,” said Allen, a native of Pawnee, Okla. The son of an Air Force mechanic, Allen enlisted in 1996 at age 22.
“I just wanted to be in the military, and I always knew that as a young man,” Allen said. “As I grew older, seeing Marines and hearing the stories about [the Marine Corps], the honor that came with being a United States Marine, that appealed to me.”
Allen said he began playing the guitar as a corporal stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., when his wife bought her father’s guitar.
“I started writing my own music right away, because I didn’t know anyone else’s music. I didn’t have anyone to teach me how to play, except an old music book,” Allen said. “When I was a young Marine and didn’t have money for gifts, I used to write my wife songs for anniversaries.”
There are now 12 guitars in the Allen household. His two sons -- Aaron, 17, and Aidan, 15 -- also are avid guitarists.
“My daughter is really good at playing the maracas or the tambourine,” Allen said of his 8-year-old daughter, Lainie. “She loves to jump in there, and she sings beautifully.”
Allen’s story of family awaiting his return resounds with many men and women who wear a uniform in Afghanistan.
“The Marines don’t need anything to help remind them of what they miss from back home,” Allen said. “For the spouses, they should know we’re constantly thinking about them.
“Even though we’re busy throughout the day,” he continued, “there are many times where we stop and think about home and how much we miss them -- just miss the little things that we share with them or the stuff we’re missing out on.
“Having them in our arms to hold is one of the most important things that you miss while you’re out here,” he added.
Allen said he hopes his Christmas song “will help people understand that though we’re willing to do it, it’s still heartbreaking.”
“For a military that’s willing and ready to leave their families to serve their fellow Americans, it’s all those little things that are hardest to deal with when you leave home,” Allen said.