ALLAN J. KELLOGG, JR. - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

ALLAN J. KELLOGG, JR.

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At the end of his sophomore year in high school, seventeen-year-old Allan Kellogg told his parents that he was bored and wanted to drop out. His father gave him permission. But the boy couldn't just find some meaningless job; he had to join the military. Kellogg signed up with the Marines in the fall of 1960.

In his first few years, the closest he came to seeing action was the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which he spent with his unit on alert at Camp Lejeune. In 1966, he was approaching the end of his enlistment, and many of his friends were going to war. Kellogg asked himself, Am I really a Marine or just a pretender? He answered by reenlisting and volunteering for Vietnam.

In the spring of 1970, Kellogg, by then a staff sergeant, was on his second tour of duty in Vietnam. On the morning of March 11, the fourteen-man squad he commanded was in an overgrown valley in Quang Nam Province, serving as a blocking force for a company of Marines trying to push the enemy in their direction. The day was uneventful, and by late afternoon, Kellogg was getting ready to pull out the squad. However, he received a radio message that one of the tanks attached to the approaching company had hit a mine. The squad had to wait while it was repaired.

As darkness fell, Kellogg could feel the enemy closing in. He decided it was time to move out. At that moment, one of his men inadvertently tripped over a howitzer shell, detonated it, and was killed instantly; three others were seriously wounded, including the radio operator. Kellogg called in a medical evacuation helicopter and tried to hurry the squad toward the extraction zone a half mile away.

As he moved his men along, Kellogg could make out columns of Vietcong troops in pursuit. His men began to take heavy fire. When his squad came to a narrow and rickety footbridge extending over a rice paddy, Kellogg crossed first, passing through enemy machine-gun fire, and showing the men that the obstacle could be negotiated. As he was beckoning the others to follow, an enemy soldier suddenly emerged from dense foliage and threw a grenade that bounced off Kellogg's chest. With his foot, he jammed the grenade into the mud and then fell on it. The explosion knocked his .45 pistol out of his hands and detonated the ammunition in his belt.

Bleeding heavily from his chest and arms, Kellogg nonetheless stood up and reassumed command, leading his men forward. Finally he and his squad made contact with the Marine company they had been waiting for. He was evacuated with his wounded. While he was hospitalized in Japan, an officer informed him that he was to receive the Navy Cross. Kellogg wisecracked, "Just get me out of here, and we'll call it even."

Upon his recovery, he was assigned to duty at Camp Pendleton. Early in 1972, his commanding officer there told him that his award had been upgraded to a Medal of Honor and that he would be going to the White House. The medal was presented to him by President Richard Nixon on October 15, 1973.

Allan Kellogg retired from the Marines in 1990 as a sergeant major. For a few years, he did the things he imagined he might have done back in 1960 if his father hadn't told him that if he left school, he had to join the military. Eventually he took a job with the Veterans Administration in Honolulu, where he has worked for more than thirteen years.