A total of 26 years as executive assistant to 11 commanding generals at Fort Bragg have given Marie Allen a ring-side seat to many of history's most significant events—Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, Operation Desert Storm and the war in Iraq. She has also learned a lot from bosses like General Hugh Shelton, who became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington and offered her a position as his personal assistant, and current commander, Lieutenant General John R. Vines, commander of all ground forces in Iraq and the Iraq Multi-National Corps. "The most important things I've learned in this job are to always be flexible and to never take anything for granted," said Allen, whose retirement ceremony, after 38 ½ years total service, is scheduled for June 30 at 4 p.m. at the Main Post Flagpole. "Most people think my job is very stressful, but I do not think of it that way. I feel comfortable in my ability to do the job and do it well. I hope that doesn't sound boastful." As one of nine children, Allen said she also learned how to be a team player and to communicate clearly and concisely from another important teacher, legendary Campbell University Professor Miss Mabel Powell. From the time Allen began her Civil Service career as a clerk typist for the U.S. Army Training Center in 1967 until the present, she credits the late Miss Powell with helping her to succeed. "The time I spent in Miss Powell's English Class was probably the most beneficial of my educational experience," she said. "I keep a copy of her book, 'Fundamentals of English,' on my desk and refer to it often." Allen, who took a secretarial course at Campbell in 1964-'65, has been a stabilizing force for the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, as well as the soldiers and their families. She has also been an important link between the military and civilian communities, including Campbell University and its award-winning ROTC program. "She made sure that the generals of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg knew about Campbell University," said Campbell Chancellor Norman A. Wiggins. "She is one of the reasons our ROTC program has grown to include programs at Methodist College, Fayetteville State University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke." Allen has received the Meritorious Civilian Service award with oak leaf cluster and numerous outstanding civilian service awards. She is a life-time member of Antioch Baptist Church where she has served in a variety of positions. She is also a past matron of the Lillington Eastern Star and has held district and state appointments in that organization. She presently serves as a member of the board of directors for the North Carolina Veterans Memorial in Broadway, N.C., and on the board of advisors for the General Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative at N.C. State University. In 1995, Allen was named a Distinguished Alumna of Campbell University. And if these accolades aren't enough, she is known for her musical talents as a soloist throughout the state. One of her former bosses, General William F. Kernan, Supreme Allied Commander of the Atlantic, summed up Allen's career succinctly when he said, "I only made one mistake when I was commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and that was when I didn't follow Marie Allen's advice." Allen and her husband Wallace are the parents of two children, Duane and Audra. They have a granddaughter Paige.
Photo Copy: Marie C. Allen ends her 38 ½ -year career as executive assistant to the commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.