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0440-W2M-04/2009
Preston A. Dean, Jr.
2LT
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 09/16/1942 - 11/27/1945
AA Automatic Weapons Unit Commander, 531 AAA (AW) BN, 30th Infantry Division
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Allen was born at home in Colfax, Louisiana, one of three children of Preston Allen Dean, Sr., and Addie Swafford Dean. While his father raised cattle, maintained a peach orchard, farmed and sold vegetables to a restaurant, Allen's mother sold butter, eggs, milk, and cream cheese, using the proceeds to buy the children clothes from Montgomery Ward. While Allen worked in the fields and in the garden on the farm, the family saw he was a budding artist. He took a correspondence course in art as a teenager, and graduated from Colfax High School in 1932. He attended Louisiana Normal College (now Northwestern State University) in Natchitoches, then hitchhiked to LSU where he majored in government "because I wanted to do editorial cartoons for the newspaper someday," he recalls. After graduating in 1937 he spent "a year and a summer" at Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In September of 1938 he began working as an editorial cartoonist at The Shreveport Times, where he signed his cartoons "Pap," a nickname since childhood. In 1940 he married Doris Moore. (They would have three children.) He joined the U.S. Army on September 16, 1942 and took basic training at Fort Beauregard, then was sent to finance school at Boca Raton, Florida. Preferring not to serve in a clerical position, he requested a transfer and was sent to antiaircraft training at Camp Davis in North Carolina, where he took special courses in 40-mm gunnery, and training on the 50-caliber machine gun. He was sent to Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, then to Fort Meade, Maryland, where he helped design infiltration courses. Allen sailed to Glasgow, Scotland on the SS Queen Elizabeth, by then a sergeant. Aboard, he was put in charge of 100 men manning antiaircraft guns. He arrived in Great Britain on June 6, 1944, was sent by train to Southampton, then shipped over to Omaha Beach. There he landed three days after the D-Day invasion, or D+3. In France he was assigned to the 531st AAA (AW) Battalion of the 30th Infantry Division. His battalion was assigned to give air protection to three regiments. Promoted to second lieutenant, Allen worked as S1 in battalion headquarters, as well as serving as platoon leader in B Battery. As a public relations officer he wrote news releases for hometown newspapers of men in his battalion, and would edit and illustrate the battalion history. Allen served in campaigns through Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland and Central Europe. One of his vivid memories is witnessing the scene of the infamous Malmedy Massacre. He earned five bronze stars. Allen was discharged on November 27, 1945, and returned to The Shreveport Times as editorial cartoonist. Doris passed away in 1982. In the late 1980s, Allen married Jimmie Straughan Smith. In all, he has four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and two step-great grandchildren. He and Jimmie live in Colfax in a log home they built, where he maintains a studio.