Face of Defense: Marine Reservist Leads Squad During Competition


Marine Corps Sgt. James Ellis, a rifleman with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, and a full-time student at Missouri State University majoring in nursing, serves his country while bettering himself.

A Marine wearing combat equipment points toward the camera.
Marine Corps Sgt. James Ellis, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, participates in a 4th Marine Division rifle squad competition at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 4, 2018. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña
A Marine wearing combat equipment points toward the camera.
Rifleman, Nursing Student
Marine Corps Sgt. James Ellis, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, participates in a 4th Marine Division rifle squad competition at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 4, 2018. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña

“I joined the Marine Corps Reserve after I had gotten off active duty,” said Ellis, who hails from Eldon, Missouri. “I knew that I wanted to keep a hand in the Marine Corps, but I also wanted to further my education and obtain my bachelor’s degree. Joining the Reserve allowed me to do both.”

Squad Leader

Ellis recently took part in the 4th Marine Division’s Annual Rifle Squad Competition here. Ellis served as the squad leader for 3rd Squad, made up of Marines in 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, from across the country. As a squad leader he was responsible for the discipline, training, control, conduct and welfare of his team.

The competition gives Marines the ability to perform in realistic training situations and execute the tasks they have learned prior to the competitions.

“Having classes to cover this material can only do so much,” Ellis said. “Most Marines are visual and hands-on learners, so being able to actually conduct this training was invaluable.”

Joining the Marine Corps has made him a better person, he said.

“I can definitely say that the Marine Corps has made a difference in who I am,” Ellis said. “The military forced me to grow up and mature, and made me a more responsible citizen. This [also] applies to school, as I work countless hours to maintain a 4.0 [grade point average].”