View Full Version : Marines to honor World War I hero

05-08-05, 02:54 PM
Marines to honor World War I hero
By Al Alingh
Special to the Pratt Tribune

At the Pentagon's request, the the inspector/instructor staff from MarineCorps Reserve Center in Wichita will provide a full military honor service for Lt. Col. Earl "Pete" Ellis at the Pratt B-29 All Veterans Memorial. The service will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Memorial Day to dedicate a special Lt. Col. Earl Ellis display now under construction.

One of the reasons for the new display being constructed at the B-29 All Veterans Memorial is because until November 2004, Lt. Col. Ellis ashes were buried in Pratt Greenlawn Cemetery. At that time, the ashes were exhumed and sent to Washington D.C. and buried with full military honors, including band and fly over, in Arlington Cemetery.

This happened because a retired Marine felt that Lt. Col. Ellis did not get the recognition he deserved and has spent the past several years trying to get Ellis awarded the Medal of Honor. For a variety of reasons this project was held in limbo for several years, but behind the scenes many people were involved.

This subject came to the forefront again, when Lt. Col. Ellis' nephew, Pratt Veterinarian Earl Gatz, was informed that the Pentagon had made a decision to bury Ellis's ashes in Arlington Cemetery.

A bronze plaque in recognition of Lt. Col. Ellis' contribution to military science is displayed at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Base. The sign in front of the Pratt VFW building also bears his name. The addition of a special Ellis memorial at the flag pole in the B-29 All Veterans Memorial site will help better cement Lt. Col Ellis's memory in the Pratt area.

Lt. Col. Ellis is considered a 20th century military genius. During his military career, Ellis was awarded the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre with Palme by the French Government, the Victory Metal with numerous citations by the British Government and the Distinguished Service Cross by the United States Navy.

Earl "Pete" Ellis was born in luka, Kansas and was one of eight children of Augustus W. and Katherine E. Ellis. He attended Pratt Public schools. After his graduation, in 1900, he "hitched" a ride by rail to Chicago where he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

His rise in rank was rapid. Five months after he enlisted he became a corporal, then he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant by the end of the same year, 1901. He joined the 1st Marine Brigade in the Philippines after completing his officer training at the Boston Navy yard in 1902.

In 1903 Lieutenant Ellis became one of the officers of the Marine Guard serving on the battleship Kentucky, the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. He receive his promotion to First Lieutenant in 1904 which began with a second tour in the Philippines. There he became identified with the Marine Corps Advance Base Force which, in the event of war, was assigned the task of seizing and defending advance bases.

Ellis spent much of his time studying the area of the Pacific and in 1908, when he was promoted to the rank of Captain, he served as the Advance Base Officer responsible for the defenses of Grande Island in Subic Bay. He later returned to the Philippines and by 1911 had earned a reputation for brilliance and devotion to duty.

He attended the U.S. Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and remained there as a member of the permanent staff. During this time he wrote a seminal study on Advance Base Theory. Ellis then served as the Intelligence Officer of the Advance Base Brigade in Puerto Rico where, in 1914, he set up an extensive defense system. Later, he was sent to Guam to supervise the establishment of permanent defenses.


05-25-05, 06:33 PM
Luncheon to honor Marines' first 'spy'

The Pratt B-29 All Veterans Memorial will host a luncheon at the Ellis VFW Building in Pratt to honor the Marines first spy and recognized amphibious warfare prophet, Lt. Col. Earl "Pete" Ellis.

After the First World War, Ellis believed war with Japan was inevitable. He traveled among the Japanese people in the forbidden Carolina Islands and died there under mysterious circumstances.

Ellis was born in Iuka on Dec. 19, 1880, educated in the Pratt school system and joined the Marine Corps at the age of 19 as a private. On December 6, 1901, he became a second lieutenant.

Before World War I, Lt. Col. Ellis was sent out on a special terrain study and intelligence service in the West Indies and at the Guam Naval Station. He served as an Aide-de-Camp to Maj. Gen. Commandant George Barnett at the Marine Headquarters and then ordered to Quantico, Va.

During World War I, Lt. Col Ellis was ordered to France where he participated in the St. Mihiel (Champagne) offensive, including the attack on and capture of Blanc Mont and in the Mouss-Argonne offensive. Ellis was among those who commenced the march to the Rhine River and crossed the Rhine on December 13, 1918, and into the Coblenz Bridgehead area in Germany.

For his superior planning and courage, Lt. Col. Ellis was awarded the French Croix de Guerro with Gold Star and the decoration of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the president of the French Republic. He was also awarded the U.S. Army Citation Certificate by the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Forces and the Victory Metal with numerous citations by the British Government. During his career, he was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by the United States Navy.

Colonel Ellis died at the age of 43 at Parao (Paleu), Carolina Islands on May 12, 1923, and his remains were returned to Greenlawn Cemetery in Pratt for burial. There they remained until November 2004 when they were exhumed and buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Ellis died at the moment when his last and greatest military intelligence task was almost complete. For 15 years he had studied the development of the Japanese power in the Orient. He had come to foresee the coming Japanese aggression and was not shy about expressing them. This led to speculation that, perhaps, this was the reason he died so mysteriously.

Today a bronze plaque in recognition of his contribution to military science is displayed at Earl Ellis Hall in Quantico, Virginia Marine Base. The sign in front of the Pratt VFW building also bears his name.

This Memorial Day, May 30, 2005, the addition of a special memorial in the B-29 All Veteran Memorial site has been added to keep alive Lt. Col Ellis's memory in the Pratt area. By the Pentagon's request the inspector/instructor staff from Marine Corps Reserve Center in Wichita will, provide a military honor service at the memorial.

As time passed, few people in Pratt County remembered the boy who was born here and became a Marine Corps legend. Ellis is now considered to be a miliary genius, the Marines' first spy and a recognized amphibious warfare prophet who in the 1920's wrote a 30,000 word report that predicted the war with Japan, Pearl Harbor, aircraft carriers and the airplanes that could carry bombs and fly off them.

This year, with the help of the Pentagon and many interested parties, Lt. Col. Ellis' achievements are again recognized and the citizen's of Pratt County have another "giant" to be remembered.

Story created May 25, 2005 - 14:09:51 CDT.