Walter Henry Allen was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 17, 1915. He was a veteran Marine Parachutist before joining the 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.
Allen served as a Squad Leader in Company H, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines while on Iwo Jima. He was the oldest man in 1st Platoon and he was a true, "Old Corps Marine".
On February 22, 1945, while leading his squad through heavy small arms and artillery fire in an assault on a strongly defended enemy position, Sergeant Allen and his men became isolated in front of his platoon which suffered heavy casualties, including the Platoon Leader.
With his squad vulnerable on the flanks and in the rear, he repeatedly exposed himself to the heavy fire while deploying his squad to cover the platoon front, and after contacting units on his left and right, renewed the attack on his own initiative, knocking out at least two pillboxes and many other hostile installations.
He then sent word of the situation to his Company Commander and, despite additional casualties among his men, captured the enemy position and continued to advance along the platoon front until ordered to stop.
His aggressive leadership and determined fighting spirit earned him the Navy Cross for his actions.