During Women’s History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Jessica Ellis, who was killed in action in Iraq.

During Women’s History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Jessica Ellis, who was killed in action in Iraq.

In high school, Jessica Ellis participated in dance groups and various sports teams, such as track, cross country and swim. She graduated in 2002 from Lakeview High School in Oregon. Ellis then attended Central Oregon Community College, where she earned an associate degree. While in college, she worked summers at the Fremont-Winema National Forest as a U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighter.

After college, Ellis joined the Army and became a medic as she could help people. Ellis went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for basic training in September 2004. She then went to Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, where she trained as a combat medic. While there, she learned a number of emergency medical techniques and how to conduct evacuations under enemy attack.

After becoming a combat medic, Ellis went to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In the fall of 2005, she deployed with her unit to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a medic, Ellis worked in the camp’s clinic and routinely went on clearance patrols in Baghdad with combat engineers. Their objective was to keep roads clear of bombs and booby traps. Because she was the medic, she usually rode in a Buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle as it was the safest given its heavily armored construction. During this deployment, Ellis had some dangerous encounters. On two occasions, two improvised explosive devices exploded near her vehicle.

In October 2007, Ellis went back to Baghdad for her second tour with the same unit. In April 2008, while out on patrol, an IED hit Ellis’ Buffalo. The vehicle caught on fire. Everyone got out in time and Ellis survived. A few weeks later on May 11, 2008, she volunteered to cover for another medic on patrol, as she didn’t want her fellow soldiers to go without a medic. This patrol took place during the night and of the five vehicles in the convoy, she was in the Buffalo as usual. Multiple explosively formed penetrator devices hit her vehicle during an ambush, and her Buffalo caught on fire. Ellis’ comrades got her out and tried to save her, but she did not survive. She was 24 years old.

In an interview with OPB.org, Ellis’ father recalled what he was told when he met with the soldiers from her unit.

“She was the morale of the unit,” the soldiers told her father. “She was always there for us.”

Ellis posthumously promoted to corporal and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Ellis is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

We honor her service.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Contributors

Writer: Michael Veronda

Editors: Amanda Baker and Julia Pack

Fact checker: Bhaavana Oruganty

Graphic artist: Helena Strohmier

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2 Comments

  1. Norio Matsumoto March 12, 2022 at 9:46 am

    A fallen soldier from 101 Airborne, a medic. Purple Heart and Bronze Star and promoted to Corporal posthumously, not much comfort to parents, family and friends and the grateful nation griefs for the loss.
    I think I was made aware of the importance of human life in late 1970s and was taught how each human is brought up with care and love of parents and many others and we are all fruits of efforts and sacrifices made by other loving beings. This goes for partners when breaking up and for enemies that we neutralize.
    She chose her path of saving lives and died in that mission. You are a shooting star Jessica. God has tremendous grace on these individuals. Rest in peace in the arm of Jesus, Trooper Ellis.

  2. Senior Veterans Care Network March 11, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    We honor the service of Jessica Ellis.

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