Fallen Heroes: Specialist 4 Donald Eugene Allan, Jr.

Sheridan Tanks from H Troop, 17th Cavalry, 198th Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division, cross the Song Diem River during Operation Nantucket Beach, about 10 miles northeast of Quang Ngai, Vietnam.

Typically when I look at the short life of a fallen hero, I trace his roots in the community along his paternal line. In the case of this Vietnam War fallen hero from Midvale, I chose to follow his mother’s family instead.

The Chaney family arrived in Ohio in the early 1800s with the migration of Thomas Chaney (1803-1890) from Virginia in the 1820s. Thomas settled in Harrison County where he married Hannah Gardner (1812-1835) in 1830. Hannah died after the birth of their first child, James Chaney (1835-1887) in 1835 but Thomas remarried and several more children followed. James Chaney married Nancy Dunfree (1837-1913) in 1858 and moved to Belmont County, Ohio to a parcel of land in Pultney Township.

James and Nancy only had one child, at least one that survived to be recorded, named Jacob Chaney (1860-1921). Jacob worked on his father’s farm in Pultney Township in his youth and married Alice Rothwell (1858-1937) in 1884. After the death of Jacob’s father in 1887, Jacob farmed property along the border of Harrison and Belmont counties until the 1910s. Jacob and Alice moved their household, now including three children and four grandchildren, to a farm in Warren Township, Tuscarawas County before January 1920. One of those children was a son named Henry Chaney (1894-1961).

Photo of two year old Donald E. Allan, Jr. printed in the February 14, 1950 issue of the Dover Daily Reporter. (Source: newspaperarchive.org)
Photo of two year old Donald E. Allan, Jr. printed in the February 14, 1950 issue of the Dover Daily Reporter. (Source: newspaperarchive.org)

Henry Chaney served in the United States Army during World War One and, afterwards, found work as a coal miner while living on his father’s farm in Tuscarawas County. He married Rebecca Rennicker (1910-1953) in the fall of 1920 and the two started their own family. Between 1924 and 1927 the couple welcomed three children, two sons and one daughter named Georgia Lee Chaney (1925-1980). Georgia went on to meet, and then marry in the fall of 1946, Donald E. Allan (1927-1992).

Georgia and Donald had a rocky marriage, one that played out often in the newspapers at the time. Despite that, the couple had two children between their marriage and divorce in the 1950s. One of those children was a son named after his father, Donald Eugene Allan, Jr. (1948-1969). Donald attended school and church in Midvale in his youth, graduated from Midvale High School, and married a local girl in 1966. He was attending Kent State University’s Tuscarawas Campus when he was drafted into the United States Army in July 1968.

  • Specialist 4 Donald E. Allan, Jr., 1968. (Source: honorstates.org)
  • Soldiers of the 198th LIB taking part in Operation Russell Beach, January 1969.

After completing his basic training in the fall of 1968, Donald was assigned to serve with the 198th Light Infantry Brigade, part of the 17th Cavalry Regiment; the 198th was assigned the designation of H Troop in the 17th Cavalry Regiment, serving with the Americal Division in Vietnam. Specialist 4 Allan received further training after he arrived at his unit, serving as an Armor Intelligence Specialist. The Americal Division was stationed in, and operated in, the region around the Vietnamese city of Chu Lai. H Troop’s base of operations was on a hill with the designation Landing Zone Bayonet.

SP4 Allan’s unit was assigned to take part in the Americal Division’s Operation Russell Beach that began on January 13, 1969. The operation was intended to pacify enemy units operating in the division’s area of operations and to relocate civilians to areas already pacified. During the course of the operation Americal Division troops frequently came under fire from small groups of enemy troops and snipers. Eight days into the operation, at 6:25 pm on January 21, 1969, SP4 Allan became the victim of sniper fire. Initially recorded as wounded, his head wound was too severe and he passed away later that day. He had become a father just four days earlier.

Specialist 4 Donald E. Allan left behind a wife and infant daughter when he was killed in Vietnam in January 1969. He is interred at Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville.

SP4 Donald Eugene Allan, Jr.'s headstone in Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville. (Source: findagrave.com)
SP4 Donald Eugene Allan, Jr.’s headstone in Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville. (Source: findagrave.com)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.


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