Thursday, February 15, 2007

Joseph J. Ellis killed by suicide bomber at checkpoint

ASHLAND, Ohio — A Marine killed by a suicide bomber last week had planned to retire in North Carolina this summer after volunteering for three tours in Iraq, his daughter said.

Sgt. Maj. Joseph J. Ellis, 40, of Ashland, died February 7 in Iraq's Anbar province west of Baghdad. He was assigned to the Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, at Camp Pendleton, California

"I always thought he wouldn't be one of those people who wouldn't come home," said Rachael Ellis, 20, on Monday. "In my eyes, he was Superman."

Joseph Ellis enlisted in the Marines at age 17 after graduating from Ashland High School, devoting himself to advancement in the military.

He was set to return to the United States this month and planned to retire in May and move to North Carolina, said his daughter, a nursing student who lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

He also is survived by his wife, Deborah, and her three children, of Camp Pendleton; his former wife of 17 years, Traci, of Perrysville; his parents and five siblings. Ellis will be buried February 21 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. No services in Ohio are planned.

Ellis served with the Marines in Ohio, Hawaii, California and North Carolina. He was deployed to Saudia Arabia in 1990 in the first Gulf War.

The military told Traci and Rachael Ellis that he was doing a routine checkpoint search when he approached a suspicious man who detonated a suicide bomb, killing him and injuring another Marine. A message seeking comment was sent to Camp Pendleton.

"He just wanted to make a difference," Rachael Ellis said. "Anytime he was asked to go somewhere, even times when he didn't have to, he would. He wanted to be there for his troops."