As a teenager, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Allen's mother wouldn't sign papers to let him join the military.
Allen eventually joined the Army and rose through the noncommissioned officer ranks of the 82nd Airborne Division. He served as command sergeant major from 1999 to 2002, while transitioning to the post 9/11 period of the Global War on Terrorism, Operations Allied Force and Joint Guardian.
Allen later served as the 18th Airborne Corps command sergeant major from 2006 to 2010.
With his mother by his side Wednesday, Allen was one of 16 people inducted into the 82nd Airborne Division's Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
"I didn't expect it," Allen said outside of the division's Hall of Heroes building. "As a matter of fact, I thought they ran out of names and mine popped up, so I had no idea that this was taking place, but I'm really, really appreciative of it. (It's a) great honor. I'm in great company."
The company Allen was talking about are inductees ranging from private first class to general to warrant officer and sergeant major who have served in conflicts to include World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq, said Maj. Gen. James Mingus, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division who presided over Wednesday's ceremony.
Family members of inductees who have died accepted honors on their behalf.
Capt. Kimberly Hampton died from hostile fire Jan. 2, 2004, at the age of 28. She was the Delta Troop commander for 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment from 2002 to 2004.
An OH-58D Kiowa pilot-in-command, she was the Army's first woman combat pilot killed in action and the first woman in the 82nd Airborne Division to die from hostile fire.
Her father, Dale Hampton, accepted his daughter's induction honor Wednesday. He said his daughter gravitated toward the military.
In high school and college, she was part of the ROTC. She graduated from Presbyterian College and wanted to become a pilot, Dale Hampton said.
"She told us sometime before it happened that she knew we were worried, but (not to) worry about her because if anything did happen, just to remember that she loved what she was doing and was happy," Dale Hampton said. "That means everything right there."
Since his daughter's death, he said the Army has been supportive of his family; he considers the 82nd Airborne Division part of his family.
Mingus said the division reflects on its past by honoring its heroes to serve as an inspiration for the future.
"These 82nd icons make up the very DNA about the division's lineage, heroism and excellence," Mingus said. "It is also embedded in the very fibers that make up today's paratrooper."
Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin said he considered it an honor to be an inductee because of the division's history to "produce so many outstanding Americans and heroes."
Austin commanded the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment during Operation Safe Haven in Panama. He also served as the division's assistant chief of staff for operations and commanded the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
And it's the memories of people -- the paratroopers -- that Austin holds dearest.
"No matter how difficult or challenging things got, these paratroopers have always found a way to get things done," Austin said. "And it's why people continue to want to be a part of this great organization."
Austin later commanded the 18th Airborne Corps while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and U.S. Forces-Iraq during Operation New Dawn, and was commander of U.S. Central Command.
This article is written by Rachael Riley from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.