Iowa State Memorial Union

Mark Ellsworth - Sergeant

Rank: Sergeant
Date Of Birth: : Jan 22, 1947
Date Of Death: Sep 25, 1968
War / Conflict: Vietnam
Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa
Gold Star Hall - Wall Location: Southeast Wall (Top Portion)
Service Ribbons Awarded:
  • Silver Star
  • Bronze Star with V (for valor)
  • Purple Heart

Biography

Mark Allen Ellsworth was born January 22, 1947, to Marjorie and Lloyd Ellsworth in Waterloo, Iowa. He was 7 1/2 years younger than brother Jim, 17 months older than Kathy and 6 years older than Amy.

Story told by Mark’s sister, Kathy:

“Our parents and brothers are gone now. Childhood memories can be cloudy, but this we know for sure. Mark was funny. He had an infectious laugh. He liked Abbott and Costello and Laurel and Hardy. He could do pantomime skits for speech class that cracked up the room. Mark could find humor in everyday things. His humor was subtle and kind of dry; and we, his sisters, loved it.

“He was a brother with many interests. Mark’s laboratory under the basement steps behind the locked door contained his rock, shell, coin and stamp collections. Once in awhile he would let us in to show us what was under the microscope. We felt privileged to step into his private space. He built a robot out of tin cans and attached it to a platform on wheels. Mark was ten.

“He would set up his train track throughout the basement. It was a sight to see, if he would let you. He would spend money earned on his paper route to buy track and cars. He had the entire town. It took him days. Mark was patient.

“In junior high Mark began his adventure trips to the woods. He and his friend Gary would pack knapsacks, fill their canteens and have Dad drive them to the heavily wooded park not far away. It started with day outings and then as he got older, he convinced Mom and Dad to let him sleep in the fort he built in the trees. He eventually bought an inflatable boat and air pump to use in the creek in the woods. Mark loved nature.

“After being confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church, he taught Sunday school. In high school he lettered in track and loved football. He meticulously tended his two big aquariums.  He was kind, unselfish, a great student and a protective brother. He was quiet and unassuming. Mark worked summers to help pay college tuition. He worked the same kitchen job at Oakdale Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Oakdale, Iowa for three summers or maybe it was two. He lived there during those summers. Mark was a hard worker and reliable.

“Because he worked away from home and went to college, we didn’t see much of Mark those last few years. He decided to drop out of college and join the army so that he could get the GI Bill to help with tuition.

“We said good-bye to Mark on September 24, 1967, when he left for Hawaii and then for Viet Nam. One year and one day later on September 25, 1968, Sgt. Mark A. Ellsworth was killed in action, in the village of Ky Tan, six miles southwest of Tam Ky City, in Quang Tin Province, Republic of South Vietnam. He was mortally wounded when the unit received enemy rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.  He was a machine gunner protecting his unit. He did not suffer. 

“His unit - Company D, 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division - conducted a memorial service with military honors and a final tribute to him. Mark’s body arrived in Waterloo one week later where a military funeral was held.  

“Posthumously, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action, the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. The presentation was in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, January 25, 1969.

“He didn’t get back to college. He didn’t get to marry or have children. He didn’t get to know his brothers-in-law or his eight nieces and nephews. He didn’t get to become the interesting, smart, kind man he would have been. 

“But this we know for sure - Mark believed in the war and the cause; and he knew he was doing the right thing. 

We are very proud, Mark.” 

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