Book Review: Front Toward Enemy - A Slain Soldier's Widow Details Her Husband's Murder and How Military Courts Allowed the Killer to Escape Justice by Barbara Allen
|5 stars, 1 review|
Barbara Allenabout this book: Writing Front Toward Enemy alternately strengthened and decimated me, depending on my life at the moment. I initially strived to chronicle the events surrounding the murder of my husband and the process of bringing his killer to justice. This, I hoped, would allow my then-young children to one day understand why I could not always be the mother I wanted to be. Why I failed them sometimes. I wanted them to know how hard I fought to work through the devastation, and for them to celebrate with me when justice arrived. The universe, however, was not quite done having its way with me yet.
My husband was Lt. Louis Allen. He had been in Iraq for a handful of days when he and the commanding officer were murdered by the staff sergeant of the unit. SSG Alberto Martinez was being fired and likely to face disciplinary actions as a result of his inept and criminal handling of the supply unit. But Martinez was not about to go quietly. Instead, he tied a claymore mine to a window, detonated it, and effectively slaughtered my husband and the C.O. From there, the military's Criminal Investigative Division and the military judicial system worked in tandem to heap more pain upon us by setting free the killer who signed a guilty plea, admitting he committed the crimes. You simply cannot make this stuff up.
The jolt of the acquittal prompted me to scrap the bulk of my first draft. My memoir turned into a true crime. I spent months researching details of this case and others similar to it. Along the way I earned my masters in Criminal Justice.
The painstaking process of writing this book as well as the money I sunk and lost into the pricey publishing process were all worth it. My book has been honored with an award from the Military Writers' Society of America and I continue to receive emails from people telling me how this book impacted them.
Some of the people I have heard from include; a young JAG officer who told me my book will forever impact the manner he treats victims' families, strangers offering encouragement, present day service members who share their own stories of menaces in the ranks, and retired service members like the two Vietnam veterans who presented me with their own Purple Hearts in honor of my husband. I hear from other families' who lost a loved one in the military to suspicious circumstances, and who battle for their own answers. I also hear from people who were there-people who acknowledge they could have prevented my husband's death but failed to do so. They ask me for forgiveness. I struggle to give it.
It is my hope this book will one day be utilized as a tool to teach new soldiers and officers the importance of effectively recognizing and responding to actions that signify one of our own has developed into a threat to others. I hope it will help me finally secure the honor my husband has been denied. I hope it will serve to highlight the failures of the CID and the military judicial systems that must be remedied.
I may not see all of these hopes realized, but I no longer view that as a failure. This book has opened my life to an extraordinary amount of possibilities. It has also allowed me to indulge my love of writing and parlay that passion into a second book due out the summer of 2014.
Finally, through publishing and promoting this book I have fulfilled my vows to my husband; I will never stop honoring him.
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Front Toward EnemyFront Toward Enemy is the true story by Barbara Allen about the murder of her husband Lt. Lou Allen by a claymore mine in Iraq in 2005. The American soldier that caused Lt Allen's death pleaded out his guilt but that was not allowed and the case went to trial. It took three years of lawyer antics by defense attorneys and questionable rulings imposed by the Judge before this admitted murderer was acquitted and walked free. He walked free after committing two premeditated cold blooded killings and the US Army has all but turned their back on the families they left behind.
This book should be mandatory reading for all those involved with the military justice system and also anyone that works with the families of military service members.
A military wife and mother that has to deal with the death of her husband has a huge mountain to climb as it is and Barbara's documentation of her dealings with military justice system while trying to raise her four boys is extremely well stated. It's heart wrenching at times and hard to read but is hard to put down at the same time.
This book will change the way our military handles "Green on Green" or Fracticide cases in this PC world of ours. I suggest you get a copy and read it, you will be inspired by the strength Barbara showed and angered by the system that appears to have let us all down.
To Barbara and the boys "Be proud and stay strong". To Lou and Phil "RIP, We will not forget".
Chief Warrant Officer
Retired USA [by CWO Larry Shatto]
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