Ten years after a Cache Valley man was killed in Iraq, Nibley city paid tribute to him with the placement of a bench and a bronze plaque, both resting beneath the flag pole in front of Nibley Elementary.
“Micheal Alleman taught 5th grade at Nibley Elementary School from August 2006 to January 2008. Midway through the 2007-08 school year, he left serving some of us to serve all of us. He died February 23, 2009, while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq,” the marker reads.
Those few words tell little of Alleman’s story, but they are fitting.
“Micheal is a man of few words but he spoke with his actions,” said his wife, Amy, during Friday’s program.
Alleman began teaching in 2004. He loved to learn, he was a voracious reader and a “walking thesaurus.” He was apparently known as “the fun teacher” and he got a great deal of joy from teaching his students.
Even so, he was still seeking out other opportunities and trying to decide exactly how he wanted to make his contribution to the world. If he could have provided for his family while also taking on his dream job, Amy said he would have loved nothing more than to work in an environment like the Stokes Nature Center where he could share his love of the outdoors with children.
Instead, he stunned her in late 2007 when he told her he was considering a career in the military. They talked it over and came to the overwhelming conclusion it was the right thing to do.
In January 2008, Alleman went to basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He was then assigned to 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
Nine months later, he deployed to Iraq. His fellow soldiers, many of whom were younger than him, called him Teach.
By this time, the couple had been married for seven years following a whirlwind romance that started at Macey’s. They had two young sons and it was widely known that Amy and the boys were his world.
Midway through his deployment, Alleman went home for “R&R” in January 2009, and Amy said they spent two incredible weeks doing all of the usual things with their sons — Kai and Kennet were 6 and 4.
When his trip home was over, Amy said she took him to the airport on his 31st birthday, not knowing it would be the last day she would ever see him alive.
Five weeks later, there was a knock at the door and the dreaded news that he had been killed in Iraq.
Since that time, Amy said she has raised their sons, taking extra care to make sure they knew that he was always their father before he was a soldier.
She continues to honor him to this day by running a marathon every year and choosing to live her life to the fullest.
“Micheal is someone who never sought fame or glory, but simply wanted to do the right and honorable thing, no matter the cost,” she said. “And that cost has the highest price. The ultimate sacrifice. And he willingly paid it. For you. For me. For all of us.”
Nibley Mayor Shaun Dustin spoke during Friday’s program, where he said Alleman was a hero long before he was a soldier, but the bench in front of the school was not a place for sadness.
Instead he said, it was a place where Mr. Alleman could continue to teach the students how to be heroes. They do not have to grow up to be teachers or serve in the military. Rather, he challenged them to start small.
“Every time you think — what can I do to be a hero, how can I help, how can I be kind? That is how we can remember Mr. Alleman,” he said.