Marine from state dies in Iraq

Web-posted Nov 16, 2004

By HANK SCHALLER
Of The Daily Oakland Press

Marine Lance Cpl. Justin M. Ellsworth, 20, of Mount Pleasant, who has family in Oakland County, was one of several soldiers killed in action by a roadside bomb Saturday as part of the continuing assault against insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq.
A Marine since Sept. 15, 2003, Ellsworth was a combat engineer assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's Combat Service Support Battalion, whose home base is Camp Pendleton, Calif.

His father, John Ellsworth, a sergeant with the Wolverine Lake Police Department, said in a statement Monday that his son died doing what he loved and was very proud of his work as a Marine.

Justin reportedly enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduating from Mount Pleasant High School.

Since joining the Marine Corps, Ellsworth had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal.

"Justin was not only a great Marine, but a great person also," Ellsworth said. "He was very proud of the job that they were performing over there, and was doing what he loved to do: serve the United States of America.

"In my many conversations with him in the last few weeks, he would tell me all the good that they were doing and get mad at what was being reported to the public. Justin would say, 'Dad, we are making a difference to these people.' "

John Ellsworth said his son's unit was on patrol in Fallujah when it "was hit with a roadside improvised explosive device. Justin, along with four other brave Marines, was killed and, I believe, there were two others injured."

Ellsworth said in the last few weeks, his son had been pulled out of his platoon and placed with a reconnaissance unit that was evacuating civilians from Fallujah.

"Justin was very proud of the fact that he was chosen for this special duty," he said.

Even though his son was only 20 years old, John Ellsworth said Justin had lived an exciting, fun-filled life.

"He graduated from high school from Mount Pleasant High, where he was active in sports," he said. "He loved to play hockey, ride horses, bull riding and skiing in the Colorado Rockies. He loved his friends and wasn't afraid to tell them that he loved them."

John Ellsworth said his son was a passionate man about life and his family.

"Justin was always up to a challenge," he said. "That's why we loved him. He was not afraid to live. He would try something, just to see if he could do it; see if he could accomplish something worthwhile.

Besides his father, Justin Ellsworth is survived by his mother Tracy; who lives in Colorado, his stepmother, Deborah, and three brothers and a sister.

The military said 38 U.S. troops have been killed and 275 wounded in the operation to gain control of Fallujah.

Ellsworth is the 35th member of the military with known ties to Michigan to die in Iraq.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Last modified date and time: 01/17/2005 8:43