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Chaplain honored in retirement ceremony

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Allen receives his certificate of retirement from the Armed Forces of the United States from 120th Fighter Wing Commander Col. J. Peter Hronek on Dec. 8, 2013 in Great Falls, Mont. National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Allen receives his certificate of retirement from the Armed Forces of the United States from 120th Fighter Wing Commander Col. J. Peter Hronek on Dec. 8, 2013 in Great Falls, Mont. National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Allen receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of his retirement ceremony held at the 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls, Mont. on Dec. 8, 2013. National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Allen receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of his retirement ceremony held at the 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls, Mont. on Dec. 8, 2013. National Guard photo/Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.

Great Falls, Mont. -- 120th Fighter Wing members gathered together on Sunday morning of the December unit training assembly to celebrate the career of one of the unit's long-serving chaplains.

The retirement ceremony recognized Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Allen's 23 years of service to his country and state.

As chaplain, he served in the important role as advisor to seven different wing commanders during his tenure with the Montana Air National Guard, offering advice on issues that affected the health, morale, welfare and quality of life of the unit's assigned personnel.

In addition to conducting chapel services, he responded to numerous tragic events occurring at the MTANG and Malmstrom Air Force Base and participated in civic programs such as Flag Day and Memorial Day events.

120th Fighter Wing Commander Col. J. Peter Hronek served as the presiding officer of the retirement ceremony.

"I want to thank Chaplain Allen for his great career," said Col. Hronek. "The psychological health program, the family program and of course, the Chaplain Corps that we have are the three legs of a stool that is such a huge part of keeping us on track as wingmen and Airmen in completing the mission, and his leadership in the Chaplain Corps has been tremendous."

During the ceremony Chaplain Allen was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and his wife, Ruth Allen, received a spouse certificate of retirement from the Air Reserve Personnel Center and a spouse certificate of appreciation from the 120th Fighter Wing.

A commemorative plate was presented on behalf of the Chief of Chaplains, United States Air Force Maj. Gen. Howard D. Stendahl.

To conclude the formal presentations, a certificate of retirement from the Armed Forces of the United States of America signed by Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, and Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clark III, Director of the Air National Guard was presented to Chaplain Allen by Col. Hronek.

Chaplain (Maj.) Arthur McCaffrey served under Chaplain Allen for over eight years and was the first to stand and share his comments with the audience.

"It's been my joy working for Chaplain Allen in the sense that the first thing I noticed about him was that he was a leader that I could ask anything," Chaplain McCaffrey said. "To me, that was something that I want to be in my leadership."

Chaplain Allen shared a few of his many memories of offering spiritual care and guidance to the members of the unit.

"Unfortunately, chaplains often shine when it's darkest out," said Chaplain Allen. We tend to feel like we are in the wings a lot and ready to step forward when the call comes in. But we've had some very good days, some happy times with baptisms and weddings."

Chaplain Allen's service took him on deployments to such distant locations in the world as Germany, South Korea and Antarctica.

His major military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Antarctica Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-short tour and the Air Force Expeditionary Service Medal.

Cake and refreshments were served to those in attendance at the conclusion of the ceremony in celebration of his final day serving as a chaplain with the MTANG.
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