By Chuck Stewart, Jr.
Laurene Sandstrom is waging war against the U.S. Army.
The war began in June 2005 when her brother, 1st Lt. Lou Allen, was killed in Iraq with his friend Capt. Phillip Esposito. The two were killed when a bomb went off outside a window of their office in Tikrit, Iraq.
Allen’s family has been seeking to have the Purple Heart medal awarded to him posthumously. However, the Army refuses, saying his death was a “non-hostile” event.
Sandstrom has been working with Senators and members of Congress to have her brother honored, however each has received a negative response.
That hasn’t deterred Sandstrom, who still remembers the day she said goodbye to her brother. “It was five and half years ago,” she recalls. “When I went to hug him I had tears in my eyes – he held me at arms length and said, ‘Don’t worry Beans, I’m coming home.’” Within 10 days of his deployment, he was dead.
Now Sandstrom has started a petition calling on the Army to grant her brother the Purple Heart.
She plans on asking everyone to sign the petition over the next few months, which you can download at http://img411.imageshack.us/img411/8059/petitionforthepurplehea.jpg and mail back to her at: Laurene Sandstrom, 1 Finnegan Lane, Goshen, NY 10924.
She has received the support of local politicians including Sen. Gillibrand, Sen. Hall, Sen. Schumer, Sen. Larkin, Assemblywoman Calhoun, and many more.
Sandstrom vows to keep fighting for her brother and his four children.
His family has established a foundation to honor the memory of the Chester High School teacher. The 1st Lt. Louis Allen Scholarship & Community Foundation was established to develop a scholarship program at Chester High School for students interested in pursuing a higher education in the field of science or teaching, as well as to provide donations to organizations that support families or individuals in need within the community.
So far, over $10,000 has been donated to organizations like Safe Homes of Orange County, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and local food pantries.
“The worst experience of our lives has taught us how important it is to provide support to those in need, and we are honored to do so in loving memory of our son and brother Louis Allen,” states the 1st Lt. Louis Allen Scholarship & Community Foundation website.