Allen Ross Culpepper
Allen Ross Culpepper (July 21, 1944 - May 18, 1969), was a United States Army captain in the Vietnam War cited for "extraordinary heroism" as he lost his life in a military operation against the Viet Cong at Long Khanh province.
Culpepper was born in Alabama to the former Marjorie Elizabeth Stephens and Steve C. Culpepper (1916-1972), an instructor at the United States Army Air Corps base in Tuskegee during World War II. At the age of ten, Allen moved with his family to Minden in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. Steve Culpepper, the son of John Allen Culpepper (1892-1939) and the former Mattie Montez Hebert (1899-1983), a native of Columbia in Caldwell Parish, was a salesman, pulpwood contractor, and a right of way agent for the Louisiana Highway Department.
As a youth, Allen had a paper route which he serviced from a motor scooter after he had earned the money to buy his vehicle. There in 1962, he graduated with honors from Minden High School. He was appointed by the late U.S. Representative Joe Waggonner to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. At the academy, he was called "Panther" because he roamed the halls seeking debate with his fellow cadets. Three days after graduation from West Point in 1966, he married his wife, Nancy. They then moved to the former West Germany, where their daughter, Rebecca, was born. There, he served with the 1-28 Artillery.
In 1968, Culpepper was transferred to the former Republic of Viet Nam and served in a staff job with the 7th Battalion, 9th Artillery, 54th Artillery Group. He received his first command with C Battery, 7-9 Artillery. By the spring of 1969, he was the commander of a 105mm howitzer battery at Fire Support Base Husky, located outside Xuan Loc in Long Khanh province. FSB HUSKY came under a massive attack of rockets, mortars, and sappers ... on May 18, 1969. Viet Cong communist ground troops overran the base. Without concern for his own safety, Culpepper rallied U.S. forces to resist the assault and to assist the wounded soldiers. His citation describes the action:
"Without hesitation, Captain Culpepper moved through the battery area to organize his troops. He quickly deployed a reaction force and directed the retaliatory fusillade of his men.When one of the howitzer emplacements was struck by rocket-propelled grenade fire wounding the section members, Captain Culpepper immediately proceeded to the damaged gun section to assist in removing the casualties. As he left his vehicle and heroically ran through the hostile barrage toward a wounded soldier, he was fatally wounded by enemy fire."
Thirteen other U.S. servicemen lost their lives that morning. Private First Class Jack L. King, who was at an adjacent battery to Culpepper's on the morning of the attack and later the recipient of the Silver Star, the third highest Army award, describes the scene:
"I was one of the men who volunteered to follow him into battle ... He was a very brave man that night; that he gave the ultimate sacrifice for his fellow men. He will forever be a hero in my heart. I was by his side to the end."
In 2011, the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville inducted fifteen service cross recipients into its membership. The service cross awards are considered second only to the Medal of Honor. Culpepper also received a Bronze Star. On August 4, 1969, some three months after his death, he received the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross posthumously "for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force." The presentation was made by U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.
Family and burial
In addition to his parents, wife, and daughter, Culpepper was also survived by a sister, Caren Elizabeth, of Austin, Texas, and his brother, Douglas Orville Culpepper (born 1948), a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel, a 1966 graduate of Minden High School, and a 1970 graduate of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, who resides in Houston, Texas.
Culpepper is interred at Allegany Cemetery in Allegany in Cattaraugus County in southwestern New York.
- Steve C. Culpepper. gen.culpepper.com. Retrieved on May 13, 2012.
- James Gulledge, "A Hero Remembered," Minden Press-Herald, November 11, 2011, p. 1
- Culpeppers of the Military Academies. gen.culpeper.com. Retrieved on May 13, 2012.
- Valor awards for Allen Ross Culpepper. militarytimes.com. Retrieved on May 13, 2012.
- Capt. Allen Ross Culpepper. findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 13, 2012.