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First Name: Michael

Last Name: Ellis

Birthplace: St. Louis, MO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: East St. Louis, IL
Middle Name: B.

Date of Birth: 28 October 1894

Date of Death: 09 December 1937

Rank: First Sergeant

Years Served: 1912-1919
Michael B. Ellis
'Machine-Gun Mike'

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Michael B. Ellis

First Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War I

First Sergeant Michael B. Ellis (28 October 1894 - 9 December 1937) was a U.S. Army soldier who received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War I.

Michael B. Ellis was born in St. Louis, MO, on 28 October 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, IL. 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 8 February 1912, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Jefferson Barracks, MO.

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 16 April 1917 and to Sergeant a month later. The official record of the War Department states:

"He showed unusual courage in carrying supplies and in attacking strong points at Brouil, Pleissy, and Berney-le-Sac. Our allies, recognizing Sergeant Ellis' bravery, awarded him the Chevalier Legion of Honor of France, and the Croix-de-Guerre with Palm, the Cross of War of Italy, Cross of War of Poland and Recognition by the Moroccan Government, two medals, Senior and Junior."

On 5 October 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. For his actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 28th Infantry, 1st Division.

Place and date: Near Exermont, France, 5 October 1918.

Citation: 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.

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.

After many campaigns throughout France, he was promoted to First Sergeant.

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 2 January 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 13 February 1923, in St. Louis.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Silver Star Medal
French Legion of Honor
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
Cross of War of Italy
Cross of War of Poland

Recognition by the Moroccan Government, Senior

Recognition by the Moroccan Government, Junior

Death and Burial

First Sergeant Michael B. Ellis died of pneumonia in a Chicago hospital on 9 December 1937. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 6, Grave 9520, Map Grid X 18.5.

Honoree ID: 1757   Created by: MHOH




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