Msgt Allan T. Perkins: Beating the Odds
“This place was 100 years old when I first started.”
Standing in the same gymnasium where he had played many basketball games, MSgt Allan T. Perkins, with his wife, Sheila and daughter, Kim, relived his teenage years at Northern Home for Children almost 52 years later. This is his story.
In the summer of 1962, right before his freshman year at Roxborough High School at the age of 15, Perkins came to live at Northern Home for Children. Prior to that, he had lived in a total of 10 foster care homes, including a place called Nicoletti’s Horse Farm and Home for Children. He came from a large family and was the youngest of 7 children – Frank, Delores, Laura May, William, Harry, Robert and Allan.
At one point or another, his siblings also lived at Northern Home for Children. A trip home for a family reunion is what brought Perkins back to what is now referred to as Northern Children’s Services.
“When I came to live here, I was extremely defensive and when something happened, I still kind of went into protective mode,” MSgt Perkins said.
MSgt Perkins attended Roxborough High School the entire time he lived at Northern and graduated in June 1966 at the age of 19. During his time there, he worked on the Audio Visual team, ran track, played soccer for three years and took a lot of shop courses but admits that going to college was never something that was encouraged or expected of him.
“I got the impression that that was not unusual for kids at my age,” MSgt Perkin explained.
One thing that always fascinated MSgt Perkins was airplanes and flying but because he had glasses, he was always discouraged from it. That would all change when he voluntarily entered the Air Force in November 1966.
(pictured here: Allan Perkins, Senior Yearbook Picture, Roxborough High Class of 1966)
A decorated and proud war veteran
“When someone told me I couldn’t do something, I was determined to try,” MSgt Perkins said.
MSgt Allan T. Perkins received Basic Military Training in Lackland Air Force Base (AFB), Texas before attending the General Aircraft Maintenance School for Reciprocating Engine Aircraft at the Sheppard AFB, Texas. In May 1967, MSgt Perkins was assigned to the 7206th Combat Support Group at the Athenai International Airport in Athens, Greece, where he performed various duties, including Phase Dock Inspector and Crew Chief. Two years later in December 1969, he was assigned to the Aero Repair Shop in the 3535th Field Maintenance Squadron at the Mather AFB, California.
In November 1970, MSgt Perkins reenlisted and in April 1971, he was assigned to the Vietnam War, where he served as a combat flight engineer and as a Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the 781 Equipment for all C-7A Aircraft in Southeast Asia.
After returning to the United States, MSgt Perkins was assigned as a B-52D and KC-135 crew chief with the 92ns Organizational Maintenance Squadron Fairchild AFB, Washington. It was during this time that he spent six months in the Pacific, responsible for a B-52D, which flew over North Vietnam and participated in the final bombing mission of the Vietnam Conflict.
MSgt Perkins was then selected for instructor duty and eventually went on to become an instructor and instructor supervisor with the School of Aerospace Sciences, Sheppard AFB, Texas, which he admits was one of the many highlights of his Air Force career. On two different occasions, MSgt Perkins was named Instructor of the Month of the School of Aerospace Services.
MSgt Perkins went on to become cross-trained into the Telephone Switching Equipment Maintenance field in February 1976 and was assigned to the Norton AFB, California serving as Instructor of Standard Installation Practices Training before relocating to the Yokoto Air Base, Japan to teach at the Pacific Communications Area Electronic Installation Team Chief Academy. MSgt Perkins was selected to join a team tasked with forming the Air Force Communications Command Training Development Branch at the Keesler AFB, managing all curriculum development efforts and developing major programs himself.
In January 1985, MSgt Perkins returned to the Keesler AFB – after a brief assignment at the Thule Air Base in Greenland – where he served in several different positions, including Installations Team Chief and Team Manager.
On September 1, 1981 Allan T. Perkins was promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant.
Throughout his entire Air Force career, MSgt Perkins earned the Senior Aircrew Badge, Master Communications Electronic Maintenance Badge, Senior Aircraft and Munitions Maintenance Badge, and the Master Instructor’s Badge. His military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Serve Medal with one oakleaf cluster, Air Medal with one oakleaf cluster, Air Force Communication Medal with one oaklelaf cluster, Air Force Achievement Medal with one oakleaf cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with V device and six oakleaf clusters, Air Force Good Conduct Medal with seven oakleaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with bronze star, Vietnam Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Medal with five oakleaf clusters and a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
From 1985 to 2007, Perkins also served on the Civil Air Patrol as a Search and Rescue, Communications and Command Officer. In January of 2007, Perkins retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Education is key
Despite never been given the encouragement to pursue school or furthering his education at all, Perkins enjoyed teaching and began taking courses at night, while his was in the Air Force, earning a total of six degrees, including: a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education from the Wayland Baptist College in 1972, an Associate of Applied Science – Middle Management from Cooke County College in 1974, an Associate of Applied Science – Instructor in Technology from the Community College of the Air Force in 1978, an Associate of Applied Science – Aircraft Maintenance Technology from the Community College of the Air Force in 1982, a Master of Education in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Southern Mississippi in May 1982 and a Specialist of Education in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Southern Mississippi in August 1983.
In addition to his educational accomplishments, MSgt Perkins also served as an additional duty NCOIC of public affairs, writing more than 200 news stories and earning several USAF public affairs awards. Since 2000, he’s also written three books, 22 Christmas stories, and several other stories, which are all available online.
Veterans of the Foreign War and Military Order of the Cootie
While he was at Northern Home for Children, Allan Perkins used to go to a little church after it was recommended by another child. These visits inspired him so much that he decided he wanted to be a minister; however, his time in the military put a hold on that dream. While he never made it to Bible School, that didn’t discourage him from becoming the first non-ordained Supreme Chaplain in 25 years.
“If I’m going to do things, I’ll find a way to do them,” MSgt Perkins said.
In fact, since 1993 MSgt Perkins has served as the Chaplain of VFW Post 8905 and has also served as Chaplain of District 4, Texas VFW, for the past 12 years, where he is currently serving as well. He also served as a 4 year Assistant State Chaplain and a District 4 Commander for the Texas VFW. He was honored twice for the National Aide-De-Camp.
For the Military Order of the Cootie, MSgt Perkins has served as the Chaplain of the Pup Tent 1 since 1985, and also currently serves as Chaplain, Grand of Texas, Chaplain of the 14th Supreme District, and the Supreme National Chaplain. He also served as Chaplain for the Grand of Texas in District 1 for 8 years, as well being an All-Star Commander.
A look back on an extraordinary life
With tears in her eyes, his wife Sheila said, “It’s amazing to see the man he turned out to be and we are so proud. He still loves where he comes from.”
MSgt Perkins does not look back on his life with despair; instead he admits he was actually nervous about coming back unsure if he was going to be accepted. However, thanks to a trip home for a family reunion, he was able to show his wife and daughter the roots of which he came from.
“He’s never given me the option of no, you can’t do that,” his daughter Kim explained.
MSgt Perkins responded frankly with a smile on his face, “You can’t do anything without trying it first.”