Dr. Ralph G. Allen, Jr., Lt. Col. USAF Ret passed away at Wilson Memorial Hospital in Floresville, Texas on Wednesday, June 5, 2002 at the age of 79 years, 8 months and 9 days of age.
Dr. Allen was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 27, 1922, the son of Ralph G. Allen, Sr. and Annie M. Allen.
Dr. Allen enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps on May 21, 1942 and served as a decorated bomber pilot in the Mediterranean Theater during World War II. He flew the B-24 Liberator, A-20 Havoc and A-26 aircraft. The B-24 was called a Â“ManÂ’s AirplaneÂ” because the steering was done by the power of the pilotÂ’s muscle. There were no hydraulics and no windshield wipers. The cockpit was open to the elements. Flying at 20,000 feet, temperatures hovered at minus 40 degrees below zero. At those temperatures, the oxygen masks froze to the face of the crews.
After the war, Dr. Allen attended the University of Texas at Austin where he received his Bachelor of Science with honors in 1947, a Master of Arts in 1948 and a Doctorate of Philosophy Ph.D. in Physics in 1953.
Dr. Allen was a pioneer in the nuclear weapons research while at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
After receiving his doctorate, he returned to the Air Force. While in the Air Force, he was involved in atomic and nuclear physics with the Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, D. C. where he was Chief of the Shielding Effects Unit; the Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph AFB, Texas, holding the position of Nuclear Research Officer; the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks AFB, Texas, where he assisted with the U. S. space program and the Office of Scientific Research in Washington, D. C., where he held the position of Chief Nuclear Physicist. During this time, he spent two years traveling all over the world reviewing contracts. Dr. Allen was right in the middle of the Â“WhoÂ’s WhoÂ” of nuclear physics.
While in the Air Force, during the Spring of 1958, he participated in Operation Hardtack with the Joint Task Force Seven and in the spring and summer of 1962, he participated in Operation Dominic with the Joint Task Force 8. These tests were conducted in the Pacific over Johnston Island and Christmas Island where experimentation was performed to determine the effects of nuclear radiation to the eye.
After his retirement from the Air Force in 1965, he returned to San Antonio where he was General Manager of the Life Sciences Division of Technology Inc., in the San Antonio and Houston Branches.
During his time at Technology Inc., he was involved in the Apollo Space Program where he was instrumental in developing the visor used by the astronauts during the Apollo 11 moon landing. He was also instrumental in obtaining contracts from the National Institutes of Health, NASA and Brooks Air Force Base, where research was conducted concerning eye damage as a result of exposure to laser beams.
After Technology, Inc., he returned to Brooks Air Force Base as Chief of the Laser Effects Branch and later, Chief of Visual Functions. He was there to create the USAF, ANSI and NATO laser safety standards. He was there to define ocular protection standards for nuclear weapons. He was there when the alarm was sounded that lasers might be turned against our military as weapons. He was there when studies first showed that aircrews needed eye protection -- a topic that still has the attention of today’s Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He was there when the latest generation of lasers, ultrashort lasers, made us rethink fundamental biological mechanisms. His research formed the basis of the retinal thermal diffusion model and the nuclear flash blindness model that still serves our nation today.
Again, he decided to retire to the love of his life, raising cattle, building fences and making hay on his ranch in Floresville.
Dr. Allen didn’t really understand the definition or concept of retirement”. So after several years on the ranch, he was called upon to write a proposal to the government in order to obtain a contract concerning laser research. Due to his efforts, the organization was awarded an 8.3 million dollar contract for five years. After two years of work, he decided to retire from government permanently.
During his years of government and industry service and in his personal life, he held three U. S. Patents, all pertaining to hunting scopes, authored 55 technical publications and belonged to the following: Sigma Pi Sigma, The Society of the Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society of America, The New York Academy of Sciences, Optical Society of America and Aerospace Medical Association. He also received the Otis O. Benson Award on February 27, 1987 for Greatest Scientific Contribution, USAFSAM during 1986 and a plaque for 38 years of faithful and devoted Federal Service upon his retirement for Visionary, Pilot, Scientist and Teacher.
Dr. Allen was a pilot, a nuclear physicist, a world renowned and highly acclaimed scientist and inventor of many things including his three patents, a rally meter, a computerized radio transmitter for use in the cattle industry, a compact-portable casing head gas compressor-refrigeration unit and a really great sherry.
He was a man of compassion, love, humor, charm, curiosity, ingenuity and accomplishments beyond peoples dreams. A man of substance -- he contributed to the community, our Nation, even the world and mankind -- as a soldier, a scientist and human being.
A celebration of his life was held at 1:00 p.m. Friday, June 7, 2002 at Porter Loring Mortuary in San Antonio with the Rev. Chuck Jennings officiating. Eulogies were given by his friends Stanley L. Perkins, Dr. Robert M. Cartledge and his granddaughter, Brooke Gibson, who spoke on behalf of his five grandchildren. Musical selections included ÂAve Maria and Amazing Grace”.
Interment followed at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio with full military honors.
Serving as pallbearers were Jim Sims, Billy Gibson, Revel Sims, Chris Kleffner, Larry Jacobs, Jeffrey Jacobs, David Anderson, Jimmy Fietsam, Ted Barber and Gerald Stafford.
Survivors include his wife: Darlene Allen of Floresville; daughters: Lynne Sims and husband Jim of Los Angeles, California and Cynde Gibson and husband Billy of San Antonio; grandchildren: Cory and Revel Sims of Los Angeles, California, Nicole Kleffner and husband Chris, Brooke and Casey Gibson; and mother-in-law: Delpha D. Fox, all of San Antonio.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Wilson County Volunteer Ambulance Association, P. O. Box 595, Floresville, Texas 78114.
Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there.
I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glint on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there. I did not die.