BROWNSBURG, IN, USA U.S. Army SSG, COMPANY C, 1ST BATTALION, 68TH ARMOR, FORT CARSON, CO BAGHDAD, IRAQ 03/17/2008
Michael D. Elledge rode horses with his siblings while they all sang Dust in the Wind, and had Big Wheel races in the family’s basement, which scuffed the wax.
Elledge, 41, of Brownsburg, Ind., was killed March 17 in Baghdad when his vehicle struck an explosive. He was a 1985 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Carson.
He served four years of active duty in the Marines and then earned his airframe and powerplant license, necessary for those working on civilian or military aircraft. He then worked for United Airlines as an aircraft mechanic.
He worked for the company for about 14 years, until he was laid off after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Elledge decided to re-enlist, but was too old to rejoin the Marines. At 38, he barely qualified for the Army.
He was a deep spirit, said older sister Marsha Johnson. He always looked at things like birds or trees and appreciated things.
He was a fan of NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, played guitar and was in a band in high school.
Elledge was considered an old man in his company. The two-tour Iraq veteran was a teenaged Marine, left the military, but joined the Army a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
“When 9/11 hit, he felt a real need to re-enlist,” his sister, Marsha Johnson, said by telephone from Detroit. “He was a real patriot.”
While he loved his country, Elledge managed to put his wife and three children first in his life, Johnson said.
“The biggest thing for him was his family,” she said.
Elledge’s unit had moved in recent weeks from Camp Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad, to a combat outpost closer to the city’s core.
There Elledge served as a father figure for many younger soldiers far away from home.
“He was always proud of what he did, but he didn’t flaunt it,” Johnson said. “That was just his nature.”
His dedication to duty had earned him the Army Commendation Medal.
From a young age, family members knew Elledge would grow up to do great things. He was thoughtful and showed a curiosity and level of caring about the world that other children often lack, they said.
“I always called him a deep spirit,” Johnson said.
He is survived by his wife, Carleen, and their children, Christopher, 18, Caleb, 8, and Cassidy, 6.