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9/11 led local man to Marines

November 11, 2016

The face of Sgt. Steven Allgire may not be the typical one conjured up when thinking of someone to represent Veterans Day.

He’s young — 31. A college student. Single dad. He doesn’t have any war stories or wounds.

But talk with Allgire, a Grand Rapids native who attends Bowling Green State University, and many sides of the Marine emerge.

Tough. Compassionate. Hard-working. Loyal.

Allgire has mixed feelings about being featured on Veterans Day.

“I don’t see myself as the same level as them (veterans who were in combat). But I served my country. I went overseas. I did what I was asked and more,” he said from his Bowling Green apartment.

It looks like the usual college-student abode. There’s a small living area dominated by a table with construction books stacked near a laptop. There’s also a tiny, yellow trike parked next to a basket of toys near the well-worn couch.

Allgire had a fairly typical childhood, growing up in Grand Rapids. He played soccer and baseball and graduated from Otsego High School in 2004.

And like lot of 18-year-old who head off to college, he thought he was doing the right thing.

But after a semester at Owens Community College, Allgire knew he had some growing up to do before he pursued higher education.

“I really wasn’t quite ready to go to college. I was still trying to find out what I wanted to do.”

He decided to join the Marine Corps.

Serving in the military, Allgire said, had been in the back of his mind since Sept. 11, 2001.

He was in second period, biology, when terrorists struck the United States.

“The first building was already smoking. A plane had crashed into it,” he said, recalling the horror of the Twin Towers attack. “We we’re all watching the TV when the second plane hit.”

His life was changed.

“There was a sense of patriotism, that really deep desire to serve your country when called upon.”

Allgire may have been undecided about college, but he was all-in for his branch of service.

“It was a pretty clear-cut decision on the Marines. They had the reputation of being the best,” he said. “I wanted to be next to the brothers and sisters that were trained the best. That’s just my opinion. Deeper down, I think I had something to prove.”

After boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, then Marine Combat Training in Camp Lejeuene, Allgire joined MWSS 471 Det. Bravo, a reserve unit out of Detroit.

“A few years passed, I tried to jump on some deployment volunteer lists.”

He wanted to go to combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He was shipped to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Africa.

“Our mission there was providing security,” Allgire said, which included patrolling the base and tower, watching the embassy and port, and Navy