b. 28/10/1894 St Louis, Missouri. d. 09/12/1937 Chicago, Illinois.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 05/10/1918 Exremont, France.
Ellis was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 28, 1894. His mother died when he was an infant, and his father was too poor to provide for him properly. He was adopted by a Polish family, the Moczdlowskis, who lived in East St. Louis, Illinois. After attending St. Laurence O’Toole parochial school, he quit school at age 12 and worked in his adoptive father’s print shop. Four years later, on February 8, 1912, he enlisted in the United States Army at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
He served with Company K, 7th Infantry Regiment, along the border with Mexico and at Veracruz. When his three-year term of service expired, Ellis received an honorable discharge, but after six months of civilian life he re-enlisted.
Sent to France as a private in Company C, 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, he saw front-line action for 200 days near Soissons and was awarded the Silver Star. He was promoted to corporal on April 16, 1917, and to sergeant a month later.
On October 5, 1918, Ellis’ division was participating in the Hundred Days Offensive near Exermont in northeast France. Ellis advanced ahead of his company and single-handedly attacked several German machine gun nests. In total, he silenced eleven machine guns and captured dozens of enemy soldiers. After many campaigns throughout France, he was promoted to first sergeant. In August 1919, he returned to St. Louis, where General John J. Pershing presented him with the Medal of Honor for his actions near Exermont. He was the only soldier in Pershing’s 1st Division to receive this honor.
Ellis later had difficulty finding a job as a civilian. Informed of his troubles, President Calvin Coolidge arranged for him to work at the post office in St. Louis. On January 2, 1921, Ellis met a young woman of Polish descent. They discovered they had been childhood playmates in East St. Louis; the two were married on February 13, 1923, in St. Louis. Ellis died of pneumonia in a Chicago hospital on December 9, 1937.
During the entire day’s engagement he operated far in advance of the first wave of his company, voluntarily undertaking most dangerous missions and single-handedly attacking and reducing machinegun nests. Flanking one emplacement, he killed 2 of the enemy with rifle fire and captured 17 others. Later he single-handedly advanced under heavy fire and captured 27 prisoners, including 2 officers and 6 machineguns, which had been holding up the advance of the company. The captured officers indicated the locations of 4 other machineguns, and he in turn captured these, together with their crews, at all times showing marked heroism and fearlessness.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
SECTION 6, GRAVE 9520
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BELIEVED TO BE FAMILY.