Charles Vern Allen was born in Van Wert, Iowa, on 20 November 1910, son of Charles C. and Clella Thompson Allen. He attended Burlington (Iowa) High School and Burlington Junior College (one semester) and was subsequently employed as a Railway Postal Clerk. He enlisted in the US Naval Reserve in December 1932, was commissioned Ensign, USNR, 5 December 1935, and began active duty on 5 July 1940. Progressing in rank, he attained that of Commander, USNR, in 1946, was transferred in that rank to the US Navy and subsequently was promoted to Captain, USN, to date from 1 July 1956.
From July until December 1940 he served as Officer in Charge of US Naval Reserve Recruiting in Burlington, Iowa, after which he joined USS Brooks (first a DD, later APD), in which he served during the early period of World war II as First Lieutenant and Gunnery Officer, later as Navigation and Executive Officer. He assumed command of that high speed transport in August 1943 and commanded her for a year, during which he received the Navy Unit Commendation for heroic service in the Pacific, including the Lae and Finschhafen landings, Bismarck Archipelago operation, Hollandia operation, and capture of the Marianas.
He was personally awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V," for "meritorious achievement as Commanding Officer of the USS BROOKS in action against enemy Japanese forces during the assault on Saipan, June 14 to 21, 1944..." The citation further states: "To facilitate the landing of a reconnaissance unit, Lieutenant Commander Allen brought his ship close inshore and, despite heavy fire from Japanese shore batteries, mortars and heavy machine guns, remained close to the beach until all boats had been conned to their correct stations. By his skill and courage, he contributed materially to the success of this hazardous operation..."
After fitting out USS Pavlic (APD-70), he commanded that vessel from her conversion from a destroyer escort (DE-669) and commissioning in December 1944 throughout the remaining war period and until December 1945. The Pavlic, under his command, participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, from 3 May to 30 June 1945, and in the occupation of Japan later that year. He was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Bronze Star Medal, also authorizing a Combat "V," with citation to follow:
"For meritorious achievement as Commanding Officer of the USS PAVLIC during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the assault on Okinawa and the occupation of Japan from May 3 to September 2, 1945. Demonstrating outstanding professional skill and leadership, Commander Allen commanded his ship with conspicuous efficiency for extended periods of time under almost daily attack by enemy aircraft, during which time one hostile plane was destroyed and numerous personnel were rescued from damaged ships. His courage and untiring devotion to duty were contributing factors in the success of the amphibious operation and subsequent occupation activities..."
After the war he served from January 1946 until May 1947 with the Pacific Reserve Fleet, first as Technical Staff Officer, later as Maintenance Officer, and the last five months as Assistant Material and Maintenance Officer. In June he reported to the University of Washington's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit as a Five-Term Student, and there completed two years of college work in December 1948. In March 1949 he took command of USS Harlan R. Dickson (DD-732), which early in 1951 was assigned to occupation service in the European Area. Detached in May of that year, he reported in June to the Fleet Training Group San Diego, California, where he served until January 1952 as Inspections Officer, later as Training Officer, and from January to April 1954 again as Inspections Officer.
In May 1954 he joined the staff of Commander Cruiser Division THREE, to serve for three months as Operations Office, and in September became Commanding Officer of USS Chikaskia (A0-54). He was a student at the Naval War College during the period August 1955 until June 1956, then served for two years on the Staff, assisting in the establishment of a Command and Staff Course for Foreign Naval Officers the first year, and serving as Assistant Head of the Department, Plans Officer and Senior Instructor the last year.
Detached from the Naval War College in April 1958, he again had duty afloat, this time in command of USS Seminole (AKA-104). He served from May 1959 until June 1962, as Operations Officer, later Chief of Staff and Aide to Commander Amphibious Group THREE, after which he was assigned as Chief of the Naval Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Republic of China, at Taipei. He served as Assistant Director of the Ship Characteristic Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, from February 1963 until ordered detached in July 1965 for duty as Senior Member of the Naval Board of Inspection and Survey, Pacific Coast Section, San Diego, California.
In addition to the Bronze Star Medal with Gold Star and Combat "V," and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Captain Allen had the Naval Reserve Medal (for ten years' service in the Naval Reserve); American Defense Service Medal with star; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six engagement stars; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia and Europe Clasps; and the National Defense Service Medal.