Jessica Ellis was born in Burley, Idaho on June 26, 1983. She graduated from Lakeview (Oregon) High School in 2002, where she was active in cross country, track and field, and the swim team. After high school graduation she attended Central Oregon Community College in Bend, while working summers as a US Forest Service firefighter on the Fremont National Forest in southern Oregon.
In September 2004, Jessica entered the US Army with the goal of becoming a Medic. After successful completion of basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, and the Combat Medic training program at Ft. Sam Houston, TX, she was assigned to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. CPL Ellis completed her first 12-month combat tour in Iraq in 2006. She earned the Combat Medic Badge on this first tour for treating a wounded buddy under direct enemy fire. She left for a second Iraq tour in October 2007. She served both tours as a Combat Medic with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Fellow soldiers called her “Doc” Ellis.
In April, 2008 CPL Ellis and four other soldiers escaped serious injury during a night time “road clearing” operation in Baghdad when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. They were riding in a “Buffalo”, a heavily armored vehicle that is primarily used by combat engineers to clear roadside bombs. Jessica sustained superficial injuries in the attack which wrecked the armored vehicle. She returned to the road clearing duties because she didn’t want “her guys” to be out on missions without a Medic.
Her combat engineer unit was attacked again while on combat patrol in NW Baghdad the evening of May 11, 2008 (Mother’s Day). The Buffalo armored vehicle in which Jessica was riding was struck by at least one EFP (explosively formed penetrator) warhead. Jessica died in the attack. She was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
CPL Ellis was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. Her courage, cheerful spirit, and devotion to fellow soldiers were noted many times to her parents and family by the 101st Airborne Division. She is honored at the Division’s memorial at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. CPL Ellis’s name is also engraved on the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial in Salem, Oregon where more than one hundred of Oregon’s fallen veterans are honored.
We honor you, Jessica Ellis.