Jessica Ann Ellis
Corporal, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 408-08
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Corporal Jessica A. Ellis, 24, of Bend, Oregon, died May 11, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when her vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. She was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
For more information media may contact the
Fort Campbell public affairs office at (270) 798-9966.
Three weeks ago Corporal Jessica A. Ellis escaped with cuts and bruises when her heavily armored vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
"She told me on the phone, this is a very dangerous place to be," her father, Steve Ellis of Baker City, said Tuesday. "She told us on the phone it was heating up again."
Sunday night, two uniformed officers knocked on the front door of Steve and Linda Ellis' rural home to notify them that their 24-year-old daughter did not survive a blast Sunday that once again destroyed her Buffalo armored vehicle.
"In the back of my mind, I always feared this knock on the door. She was so brave, and I was so proud of her," Ellis told The Oregonian. "To go through that three weeks ago and to go back out there, knowing the danger . . ."
Jessica Ellis, an Army medic who graduated from Lakeview High School and attended college in Bend, is the 118th member of the military with strong ties to Oregon and southwest Washington to die in the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kuwait. She is the second woman from Oregon to die in the conflicts and the first soldier from the region to die in the past 31/2 months.
Ellis was seated behind the driver when the device exploded, said her father. She was among five soldiers riding in the vehicle, but the only one killed.
The usual image of a combat medic is an unarmed soldier accompanying troops into battle. But Ellis was equipped with an M-4 rifle, a 9 mm pistol and body armor in addition to her medical bag, her father said. She often went on patrol with combat engineers who cleared away roadside explosives.
Steve Ellis is supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon's largest. Linda Ellis works as a nurse practitioner. They have an older son, Cameron, and a younger daughter, Mandy.
Ellis visited her parents last summer before deploying for her second tour of duty in Iraq in October. Her parents noticed a change, from always happy to serious.
"She seemed detached at times, like she was doing a lot of thinking," he father said. "We were patient with that."
Ellis said his daughter cared about people -- the reason she became a medic. She never discussed politics or her opinions about the war.
"Between tours I broached that, and she said, 'I'm there for my buddies,' " Ellis said. "She put it in the context that if she wasn't there she would be letting her buddies down. It was a fascinating response, but very telling."
Jessica Ellis graduated from Lakeview High School in 2002. On Tuesday, administrators and teachers were stunned by news of her death.
Through tears, Principal Bob Nash described Ellis as "the most friendly kid you'd ever want to meet. A lot of staff members here knew her. Everyone is quite saddened."
Ellis participated in cross country, swimming and track. Her coach, physical education teacher Bobbie Steninger, remembered Ellis as a bright girl who always lit up the room when she walked in. She was a hard worker, Steninger said, and always practiced hard.
"She's a sweetheart," Steninger said.
Ellis attended Central Oregon Community College in Bend for a few years before entering the Army. She was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Steve Ellis said his daughter had seen buddies die in combat more than once during two tours in Iraq.
"The guys looked out for her and she helped
them," he said. "She trained with them in Fort Campbell and she went to
war with them, and she died with them."
According to a friend, Cpl. Jessica A. Ellis “loved what she was doing” in Iraq, where she worked as a medic.
The Central Oregonian killed Sunday in Iraq was described by those who knew her as a friendly young woman who worked hard and always had a smile on her face.
Corporal Jessica A. Ellis, 24, was killed Sunday when a vehicle she was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad. She was an Army health care specialist serving her second deployment in Iraq, assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). She is the second female Oregonian and fifth Central Oregonian killed since the war started in 2003.
Ellis graduated from Lakeview High School in 2002 and was a student at Central Oregon Community College in Bend for two years before enlisting in the Army in September 2004.
Bob Nash, the principal at Lakeview High School, was the vice principal when Ellis attended the school.
“The thing that really stands out is how incredibly friendly she was,” Nash said. “She was friends with everybody in the school.”
“The typical barriers that separate certain types of people did not have any impact on her. … Whether they were a good student, a bad student, a top-notch athlete, she got on very well with everybody.”
Ellis is survived by a brother, Cameron Ellis, and his wife, Irena, who live in San Francisco, and by a sister, Amanda Ellis, of Corvallis, said Judy Wing, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest’s public affairs officer.
Both are with their parents now, Wing said, noting no date has yet been set for Ellis’ memorial service.
In 2003, her parents moved to Baker City, where her father, Steve, works as the forest supervisor of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Her mother, Linda, works as a family nurse practitioner for Eastern Oregon Medical Associates.
Ellis’ family could not be reached for comment.
‘A marvelous young lady’
Bobbie Steninger, who coached Ellis in track and field as well as cross country, said Ellis was a supportive team member.
“You could always count on her,” Steninger said. “Some people are good in a wide variety of ways, and she was the kind of person who always had a smile on her face.”
Ellis ran distance events for the high school and served as an inspiration for her teammates.
“She was just a marvelous young lady who worked very, very hard,” Steninger said. “She was the kid you couldn’t help but love.”
Jan Rekow, whose daughter Corri was close friends with Ellis and who ran cross country with her, said Ellis was always polite and well-mannered, referring to her friends’ parents as Mr. and Mrs. Rekow, and saying please and thank you.
“I remember a time when her dad commented on how she was a low-maintenance child,” Rekow said. “She never gave her parents any trouble.”
But she was adventurous and hardworking, too.
“She was a gutsy little gal. She was never afraid to try anything,” Rekow said. “I remember a time when she was applying for a fire crew position, and every day I would see her running up and down the road to get in shape and get ready for fire season.”
According to Nash, she was also a solid student.
“She was a very motivated student who worked very hard,” he said, his voice breaking. “She was a typical, bright cheerful kid. And it’s a terrible thing.”
From fall 2002 until spring 2004, Ellis studied at Central Oregon Community College, taking mostly general education classes but majoring in education. She didn’t earn a degree.
Ellis entered the Army in September 2004, and was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, beginning in May 2005.
She won numerous awards and decorations, including an Army Commendation Medal and medals for good conduct and terrorism service.
A health care specialist, Ellis was first deployed to Iraq in October 2005. She returned in September 2006 but was sent back to the region a year later, in October 2007. Ellis was in the midst of a 15-month deployment.
Army health care specialists provide basic and emergency medical treatment when an Army physician isn’t available.
Among their main duties is providing emergency medical treatment to casualties on the battlefield, although they also provide basic care by interviewing patients, taking their temperatures and preparing blood samples for the laboratory.
Rekow said her daughter Corri last spoke with Ellis while she was on leave from her first tour in Iraq.
“She indicated to Corri that she truly loved serving her country as a medic,” Rekow said. “She loved what she was doing.”
Linda Conroy, who taught Ellis to dance at the Lakeview School of Dance, said she was a hard worker.
Ellis and her sister, Amanda, took jazz, tap and ballet classes at the studio from the time they moved to Lakeview in 1997 until Ellis graduated from high school.
“She was a joy,” Conroy said. “She was always helping, and she was just part of the group, a team player.”
That’s one of the reasons Conroy wasn’t surprised to hear about Ellis’ service in the Army.
“She was always a person who liked to help
people, so I would imagine that would be a field that she would take to
liking. That would be a way she could help people.”
U.S. Army Corporal Jessica Ellis, a 24-year-old Army combat medic born in Burley, Idaho, was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device May 11, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, Army officials said.
“She was going out on hazardous missions with the soldiers when the vehicle was struck and she was killed,” said Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
Ellis, who was on her second tour of duty, was assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Ellis was promoted posthumously from specialist to corporal since her death on Mother’s Day. She will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Her parents, who live in Baker City, Oregon, continue to support her decision to join the military, said an Army liaison assigned to the family.
“The family is doing a lot better,” he said. “Each day it seems a little bit more positive as we go along.”
Ellis was born June 26, 1983 in Burley, Idaho, before her family left the area.
She went on to Lakeview High School in Oregon where she ran cross country, participated in track and field and competed on the swim team, according to her obituary. She was the middle child, with an older brother, Cameron and younger sister, Amanda.
After graduating in 2002, she attended community college for two years and worked three summers as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
From there, she enlisted in the Army.
Ellis’s family, in an obituary, recalls her as an “extraordinarily positive person, selfless, and caring of everyone” characteristics that lend themselves well to the role she served in Iraq.
A funeral mass is scheduled for Thursday at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City, the liaison said.
Full military honors will follow the mass. Meanwhile, troops planned to hold a memorial service in Iraq.
Most recently, Ellis resided in Bend, Oregon, according to Army officials.
After Ellis joined the Army in September 2004, she arrived at Fort Campbell in May 2005, the Fort Campbell Courier reported.
Since then, her awards and decorations include: Army Commendation Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Meritorious Unit Citation; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Combat Medical Badge; and Weapons Qualification, M4, expert, the base’s newspaper reported.
Her parents, Linda and Steven Ellis, of Baker City, Oregon, declined comment through the Army liaison.
The family asks that anyone wishing to contribute
to a memorial fund, either visit fisherhouse.org or send contributions
to Coles Funeral Home in Baker City.
BAKER CITY, Oregon - A funeral Mass for an Army combat medic killed May 11, 2008, in Baghdad is planned at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Cathedral.
Governor Ted Kulongoski has ordered all flags at public institutions flown at half-staff that day in memory of Army Corporal Jessica Ann Ellis of Baker City. She served with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and was in her second tour in Iraq.
Ellis died when the Buffalo armored vehicle in which she was riding was hit by an improvised explosive device during a nighttime mine-clearing operation. She was with four other soldiers and was the only one killed in the explosion.
The daughter of Steve and Linda Ellis of Baker City, Ellis graduated from Lakeview High School in 2002 and attended college in Bend. She is the second woman soldier from Oregon to die in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kuwait, and the 118th member of the military with strong ties to Oregon and southwest Washington to perish there.
Ellis was born June 26, 1983, in Burley, Idaho. She was active in cross country, track and field, and the swim team during high school. She attended Central Oregon Community College for two years and worked three summers as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter on the Fremont-Winema National Forest before joining the Army in 2004.
She is survived by her parents, Steve and Linda; her brother, Cameron; and sister, Amanda.
Arrangements are by Coles Funeral Home of Baker
City. Bishop Thomas J. Connolly will celebrate the funeral Mass. She is
to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
ELLIS, JESSICA A
Posted: 20 May 2008 Updated: 1 July 2008 Updated: 17 November 2008 Updated: 8 July 2011
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 4 July 2011
Photos By Holly, November 2008
Photo Courtesy of Holly, July 2008