Dean served in the US. Air Force from January 1951 to October 1953 during the Korean War. He served with the 345th Squadron, 98th Bomb Wing as a gunner, and was involved in twenty-five combat missions. Dean achieved the rank of staff sergeant, and has served in both Church and public service, including serving as mayor of Mapleton, Utah.
I graduated from Springville High School in 1950 just as the Korean War started. On January 5, 1951, some of my classmates and I joined the U.S. Air Force.
We went through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. After basic training we were sent to Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, for gunnery training on B-29s. After gunnery training we were sent to Randolph Air Force Base [Texas] for crew training. But I took a slight detour in getting to Randolph. I went home on leave to put a diamond on my girlfriend’s finger.
When I arrived at Randolph Air Force Base, Captain Donald Funk came to me and asked if I would like to be on a Mormon crew. I was delighted to say the least. He asked me if I knew any other gunners who were LDS. I told him about my classmate from high school, Kenneth Russell. We (Ken and I) were assigned to the Mormon crew as left and right gunners. The crew consisted of eleven members: the pilot, Donald Funk, Ferron, UT; the copilot, Robert Sorensen, Logan, UT; the bombardier, Horace Crandall, ID; the navigator, Lee Reason, KY; the radio operator, Gerald Gerber, Salt Lake City, UT; the engineer, Art Grim, TX; the left gunner, Dean S. Allan, Mapleton, UT; the right gunner, Kenneth F. Russell, Springville UT; the central fire control gunner, Joe English, NC; the tail gunner, J. Lynn Lundell, Benjamin, UT; and the radar operator, Donald Robb, Boulder, CO.
After our crew training at Randolph, we were sent to Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, for combat crew training. While there, our crew was sent to Colorado Springs for survival training. This was a week spent without food and hiking many miles through Pikes Peak, while “enemy soldiers” were looking for us. All of this took place in January with a lot of snow in the mountains.
The crew was then given orders to pick up a new B-29 at Travis Air Force Base in California and fly it to Yokota Air Force Base, thirty miles west of Tokyo, Japan.
Our first combat mission was to drop forty 500-pound bombs on the enemy’s front lines. Our airplane was an old B-29 named Trouble Brewer. (The new airplane we had flown over was given to one of the older crews.) We flew missions every three to five days against bridges, airfields, and hydroelectric plants. Most all of our missions were flown at night so the enemy’s MiG-15 could not see us. Ground fire was intense. The communists were using German 88s which were radar-controlled flak guns and very accurate.
We flew our missions in a bomber stream, one airplane at a time over the target every three minutes at different altitudes for each airplane (33,000 feet then 31,000 feet, then 32,000 feet). These staggered altitudes helped us avoid their antiaircraft guns.
On our ninth mission we were unable to land at our home base because of dense fog. They sent us to a fighter aircraft base in southern Japan (Ashiya). When we got there we were nearly out of fuel, and we landed on a short runway causing us to go over the end of the runaway into a road dugway. This stopped our airplane abruptly, breaking it in half. The bombardier put his feet through the Plexiglass in the nose of the airplane, shattering both of his ankles. Needless to say this was the end of Trouble Brewer, our old airplane.
The Air Force grounded our pilot, Captain Funk, for causing the accident. Our crew was then assigned a new pilot, Lieutenant Max Kinnard, who really knew how to fly B-29s. Several times on our missions over North Korea, we would have two or three 500-pound bombs hang up in the bomb bay, and we would have to go out in the bomb bay with the doors open and trip the bomb shackles so they would drop. You don’t want to land with live bombs on board your airplane.
We flew the remainder of our missions under his command and were recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross because of our accuracy on targets and our leadership as the “Wing Lead Crew.”
While we were in Japan we attended church at the Tachikawa ward, and Ken Russell and I were ordained elders there by Captain Donald Funk, in preparation for our temple marriages when we got home in October.
Many prayers were offered in our behalf by family and ward members. I personally prayed each mission for our collective safety as a crew and my own [safety]. I promised the Lord that I would do everything He asked of me if I could return home safely.