After our May 24th election, where we came up a bit short, many supporters, to whom I’m most appreciative, expressed regrets for not making it to the winner’s circle. One is always disappointed for not prevailing. With the election being so close to Memorial Day, I had to remind them that we lost an election, not our lives. All of my campaigns have been honored to God and my late parents, William Ellis Sr. and Willie Mae Ellis, who at the time of my birth were sharecroppers in Bloomfield. However, this election was also dedicated to the young men of my platoon who didn’t make it back alive. I’m sure they would have liked to have lived long enough to win or lose an election.
In the photo, I am the platoon sergeant standing to the far right. The young man standing to my right, a wheat farmer from the Midwest, is one of the fallen who I honored on Memorial Day, along with many others. He was a farm boy who always looked forward to returning to his family farm which he stated he would someday inherit — his piece of paradise on the plains. I have always wanted to visit that family farm. He was a young 20-year-old man, and I was leading the platoon in combat at the ripe old age of 22.
Ron Wildman, my communications director during my two terms as mayor, took this old, wrinkled photo that had been stored in a shoebox for over 40 years and cleaned it up, blew it up, and presented it to me with the following words written on it — “All gave some, but one gave all.” How I wish I could share this photo with the men in it or their loved ones.
Elections are important, but there are other things more important, such as never forgetting the fallen. I will always remember the sacrifices of these young men.
C. Jack Ellis is a retired, senior non-commissioned officer, who served two years in Vietnam, as a platoon sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division, where he was wounded, awarded the Purple Heart and awarded three Bronze Stars and the Army Commendation Medal for bravery in combat.