JASONVILLE -- He stepped off the plane and within moments his clothing was Tsunami explaineddrenched with sweat. He was just 19 years old and had volunteered to fight for his country in Vietnam.
Ron Allen nearly lost his life while serving with the 101st Airborne.
Allen, of Clay City, has chronicled his time in the military in a recently published book, "Grace Will Lead Me Home," that he wrote with Pastor Jerry Ross of Jasonville.
The book serves two purposes; one is to thank those who serve in the military for all they do and the second is to share the freedom that Allen has found in Jesus Christ.
For years, Allen kept to himself, basically living as a hermit. He was scared to let go of his memories because he felt that if he did he would be dishonoring those soldiers who gave their lives for this country.
"I thought if I didn't carry all of this around with me then it would be a slap in the face to all of the veterans. If I forgot them who would remember them," said Allen.
Allen was hit with shrapnel from three mortars while in Vietnam.
"After the third mortar exploded and hurled me into the air, the next memory I have is that someone was pushing hard on my back, trying to get me to breathe. He then turned me over and began to give me mouth to mouth resuscitiation. When he would blow air hard into me, I could feel it coming out my back. I knew I was in real trouble," Allen recalls in his book.
He was treated for 33 different wounds and came close to losing his right leg. He also suffered to one of his lungs. Allen still carries a lot of shrapnel is his body.
"To this day, I drive metal detectors crazy," stated Allen.
After coming back, Allen began drinking very heavily. That drinking contributed to the demise of his first marriage. Allen and Ross both agreed they wanted to share this story because of a desire to thank veterans. Through the year long process of writing the book, Ross has gained a whole knew respect for veterans.
"I almost hate to admit this but before this book when the veterans would be at the intersection with their poppies, I would actually get a little aggravated because I would be inconvenienced," said Ross.
But after working with Allen and hearing what he went through after coming back from serving his country in an unpopular war, Ross's point of view changed.
"The next time the veterans were at the intersection, I waited patiently to make my donation. After I did so, the veteran thanked me and I told him that I was the one who should be thanking him," said Ross.
So how did Ross and Allen get to know each other?
Allen has remarried. His wife Glenda was attending Blessed Hope Baptist Church where Ross is an associate pastor. She asked her husband to go to church with her.
Allen recalled the first time he went to the church. He sat out in the parking lot and finished a cigarette and a beer before going into the church. He waited for someone to ask him to leave and not come back until he was straight. Instead he was made to feel welcome. He eventually found the peace he had been looking for through his years of alcohol abuse. He accepted Jesus Christ as his savior.
"I went from search and destroy to seek and save," Allen shared.
Beth Clark is a staff writer for the Linton Daily Citizen.