TOPEKA (KSNT) – Serving 20 years in the military, Sonar Technician James Allen not only kept an ear out for the enemy, but taught future generations how to stay safe at sea.

Growing up in a ranching community south of Dodge City, James wasn’t sure where his life and career were heading.

“What was I going to do?” Allen said. “Graduation was coming up and all my life had been either ranching or going to school. The Navy recruiter came by. He gave a big spiel and everything and I thought that might be the way to go.” 

For 20 years with the Navy, James worked in the world of sonar. He worked as a sonar technician all over the globe.

“Basically maintain and operate the listening equipment where you’re listening to the sounds in the water, analyzing it, classifying it, and then you track whatever it is,” he said.

As fate would have it, he joined up with the Navy at just the right time.  

“They were really wanting sonar technicians out in the fleet,” Allen said. “So I went from boot camp to my ‘A school,’ which just taught me sonar stuff.” 

James went under the sea in four different attack submarines over those two decades.

“They aren’t comfortable,” he said. “They’re designed to go out, find enemy submarines, surface ships, and be able to attack.” 

Towards the end of his time with the military, James would take on the role of instructor in Hawaii and San Diego where he prepared future sonarmen for those intense situations.