Thad Allen

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Thad Allen
Allen in 2006
Commandant of the United States Coast Guard
In office
25 May 2006 – 25 May 2010
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded byThomas H. Collins
Succeeded byRobert Papp
Personal details
Thad William Allen

(1949-01-16) 16 January 1949 (age 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Spouse(s)Pamela Hess
AwardsHomeland Security Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal (3)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Coast Guard
Years of service1971–2010
RankUSCG O-10 shoulderboard.svg Admiral
CommandsCommandant of the Coast Guard
Deepwater Horizon Unified Command
Battles/warsSeptember 11 attacks
Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Thad William Allen (born 16 January 1949) is a former United States Coast Guard admiral who served as the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard. Allen is best known for his widely praised[1][2][3] performance directing the federal response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast region from September 2005 to January 2006, and for his role as National Incident Commander of the Unified Command for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Robert J. Papp, Jr. succeeded him as Commandant on 25 May 2010, in a change of command ceremony.

Allen remained on active duty for 36 days after being succeeded as commandant while serving as Deepwater Horizon National Incident Commander. He officially retired from the U.S. Coast Guard on 30 June 2010, but continued to serve as National Incident Commander for an additional three months. He has worked as an Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton since November 2011.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Allen was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of retired U.S. Coast Guard chief damage controlman and World War II veteran Clyde and Mrs. Wilma Allen.[5] Allen is a 1967 graduate of Palo Verde High School in Tucson. His family moved frequently during his childhood with his father's assignments. He attended the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where he was a standout football player, graduating in 1971.[6] He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from George Washington University and a Master's degree in Management (S.M.) from the MIT Sloan School of Management as a Sloan Fellow.[7]


Allen and his crewmen in August 1975 (front row, second from the right).

United States Coast Guard[edit]

In his four decades of service, Allen has held operational command both at sea and ashore, conducting missions to support the maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship interests of the nation. Allen was the last commanding officer of LORAN Station Lampang, Thailand, serving there from 1974 to 1975. Station Lampang was part of the LORAN chain first put into use in 1966 as part of "Operation Tight Reign" in support of military operations in the Vietnam War.[7][8][9] He served aboard USCGC Androscoggin (WHEC-68), and USCGC Gallatin (WHEC-721) and commanded USCGC Citrus (WLB-300). He performed dual roles as commanding officer of Group Long Island Sound and Captain of the Port, and he commanded Group Atlantic City. He also commanded the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami and the Atlantic Area in Portsmouth, Virginia.[10]

Flag officer[edit]

Portrait of Admiral Thad Allen as he assumed the office of commandant of the Coast Guard, May 2006.
An official U.S. Coast Guard portrait painting of Allen by Michele Rushworth.

Allen's first assignment as a flag officer was as Director of Resources at Coast Guard Headquarters then Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District, where he directed all operations in the Southeastern United States and Caribbean. Following that assignment he served as Commander, Atlantic Area and U.S. Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic. In this capacity he oversaw all Coast Guard operations on the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast, and Great Lakes in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Allen served as the U.S. Coast Guard's Chief of Staff from May 2002 until May 2006. As Chief of Staff, Allen was third in the Coast Guard's command structure, and was commanding officer of Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.[7]

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

On 5 September 2005, while serving as Coast Guard Chief of Staff, Allen was appointed deputy to Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and placed in charge of Hurricane Katrina search-and-rescue and recovery efforts. Former colleagues interviewed after the announcement praised Allen as well-suited to the task.[2]

On 9 September 2005, Allen was given full command of the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina onsite relief efforts. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff elevated Allen following the removal of Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown from that position. Allen announced on 25 January that he would be relieved of this responsibility on 27 January 2006.[11]

Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard[edit]

Allen assumed the duties of the 23rd Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on 25 May 2006.[10] He was appointed to a four-year term by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate.[12] Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr. succeeded him as Commandant on 25 May 2010, in a change of command ceremony.[13]

Deepwater Horizon oil spill[edit]

On 30 April 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that Allen would serve as the National Incident Commander for the federal government's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.[14] After the end of his service as Commandant on 25 May 2010, Allen continued serving as National Incident Commander until 1 October 2010, when that billet was disestablished.[15] He also remained on active duty in the Coast Guard until June 30, 2010, which was the first time in history the Coast Guard had two active duty four-star admirals.[16] The position of Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard has since been made a four-star rank.

His official U.S. Coast Guard portrait, painted by artist Michele Rushworth was unveiled at Fort Lesley J. McNair upon his retirement. Allen is a member of the Coast Guard Academy Board of Trustees. He was also the director of the bureaucratic transition of the Coast Guard from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security.

RAND Corporation and Booz Allen Hamilton[edit]

In October 2010, Allen joined the RAND Corporation as a senior fellow.[17] On 28 November 2011, Booz Allen Hamilton named Allen a Senior Vice President, joining the firm's Justice and Homeland Security business and leading development of thought leadership and client engagement regarding the direction of law enforcement and homeland security.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Allen resides in Vienna, Virginia, with his wife Pamela A. Hess, whom he married in October 1975. They have three children and five grandchildren.[10] He was elected a National Academy of Public Administration (United States) Fellow in 2003.[10]

Allen's civilian awards include the 2006 Strategic Vision Award by the Global Strategy Institute (GSI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In 2009, he was awarded the Admiral Of The Ocean Sea Award (AOTOS) from the United Seaman's Service and the 2009 Business Achievement Award given by Beta Gamma Sigma, the academic honor society affiliated with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. He was nominated for this award by the United States Coast Guard Academy.[19] Allen, in May 2013, also received an honorary doctorate in public service from the George Washington University.[20]

Allen is a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.[21]

Awards and decorations[edit]

USCG - Boat Force Operations Advanced BW.png
Gold star
1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg
1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg Operational Distinguishing Device.png1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg
Operational Distinguishing Device.png1 golden star.svg
Gold star
Operational Distinguishing Device.png1 golden star.svg
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

USCG - Commandant's Staff Badge.png USCGCO.jpg

Badge Advanced Boat Force Operations Insignia
1st Row Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal with gold award star[22][23][24]
2nd Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal[22] Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal with 2 gold award stars Legion of Merit
3rd Row Meritorious Service Medal with 2 gold award stars Coast Guard Commendation Medal with 2 gold award stars and Operational Distinguishing Device Transportation 9-11 Medal
4th Row Coast Guard Achievement Medal with gold award star and "O" device Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon with 1 award star Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation with "hurricane symbol"
5th Row Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award Coast Guard Unit Commendation with 1 award star and "O" device Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 award star
6th Row Meritorious Team Commendation Coast Guard "E" Ribbon with 1 award star Coast Guard Bicentennial Unit Commendation
7th Row National Defense Service Medal with 2 bronze service stars Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Armed Forces Service Medal
8th Row Humanitarian Service Medal with 1 service star Special Operations Service Ribbon with 1 service star Sea Service Ribbon with 1 service star
9th Row Restricted Duty Ribbon Expert Rifle Marksmanship Medal Expert Pistol Marksmanship Medal
Badges Commandant Staff Badge Cutterman Insignia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Military Daily News". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Coast Guard's Chief of Staff To Assist FEMA Head Brown", Washington Post, 7 September 2005
  3. ^ "Transcript of C-Span interview". Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Booz Allen Names Admiral Thad Allen as Senior Vice President," Booz Allen Hamilton website, 28 Nov 2011: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Keefe, Patricia (18 March 2014). "Thad Allen At The Helm". MarineLink. Maritime Activity Reports, Inc. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  6. ^ White, Josh (7 September 2005). "Coast Guard's Chief of Staff To Assist FEMA Head Brown". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Official biography, U.S. Coast Guard website
  8. ^ "Loran Station Lampang." Loran History Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2010. <>
  9. ^ Johnson, p 203
  10. ^ a b c d "Impact of Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations" (PDF). Summary Report. National Ice Center and United States Arctic Research Commission. 2007. p. 56. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  11. ^ Speech at Coast Guard Station Washington, D.C, 25 January 2006
  12. ^ Commandant's Corner, USCG Website
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Thad Allen named National Incident Commander for Deepwater Horizon spill". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Admiral Allen Steps Down as Gulf Oil Spill Response Commander". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Change of Command: Commandant of the Coast Guard". Compass Archive. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  17. ^ Archived 28 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ "Ethical Business Leadership" Archived 14 April 2013 at in Beta Gamma Sigma International Exchange, Vol. 8 No. 2 (2009 Summer), p. 3.
  20. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Homeland Security Advisory Council Members". U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 13 February 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  22. ^ a b Navy Times dated 25 May 2010
  23. ^ Washington Post dated 11 May 2006
  24. ^ Gold award star per COMDTINST M1650.25D, Table 1

References used[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas Collins
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Succeeded by
Robert Papp