Meeting Frank Allen is a rewarding experience. You can immediately sense there is an interesting story behind a pair of the kindest eyes you’ll find in Louisville, Kentucky.
I got a call from my mother about a year ago, asking me to come to her place of work to pick up something. She also told me “the security guard at the gate is a Veteran and a really neat guy.”
Always happy to meet a fellow Veteran, I said, “Okay, I’ll introduce myself.”
I pulled through the gate and standing there was a physically imposing man with a clipboard and a smile on his face. The smile is important, because this is about 10 o’clock in the morning and Allen had been on duty since 3:30 a.m.
I introduced myself and presented my identification, in return I was presented with the cheeriest response of any security guard I have ever met. It was at that moment I knew there was more to Allen than the uniform he had on.
We exchanged a few words before he says he was with 5th Special Forces Group, and retired as a sergeant first class in 2004. I asked him what his specialty was, expecting to hear weapons or communication sergeant, but he handed me a coin and said, “I was a graphic artist, here’s a coin I just finished for the Group.”
What he handed me was a pure and simple work of art, a beautiful coin and a testament to Allen’s talent as an artist.
Allen is the first person to tell you he is not a security guard, that it’s just his retirement job. Rather, he is a Soldier who is fortunate to pursue his passion as an artist.
Allen’s art has been displayed throughout the special operations community. He has designed coins, memorials and anniversary graphics for units and individuals from group commanders to four-star generals and admirals.
One of his most famous coins is the Task Force Dagger series designed while he was assigned to 5th SFG in Afghanistan. Allen took a lot of pride in designing the coin, saying, “When, then Col. Mulholland, TF Dagger Commander, told me in the [Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force K2] that he wanted a TF Dagger design made, I began to brainstorm on the different symbols of special operations and the history of unconventional warfare, because that is what TF Dagger would be doing in theater.”
“I just give my best, always,” he says.
Allen started his Army career as a 19E and 19K armor crewman, but transitioned to a 25M multimedia illustrator. Transitioning to a desk job from a combat-arms MOS made him understandably restless.
When he was assigned to 5th SFG in 1996 he took it upon himself to get his airborne designation and jump wings in order to further integrate into a unit he takes a great deal of pride in having served.
To me, Allen epitomizes the heart of our nation’s Veterans; what they are capable of accomplishing, how talented they are and how dedicated they are to pursuing excellence.
Thank you for your service, Frank! De Oppresso Liber! Hooah!