2017-05-17 / Front Page

Wixom Marine hero to be recognized for his sacrifice May 28


Lance Corporal Justin Ellsworth will be honored in his hometown of Wixom on Sunday, May 28. Lance Corporal Justin Ellsworth will be honored in his hometown of Wixom on Sunday, May 28. A Wixom hero and Marine who sacrificed his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Lance Corporal Justin Ellsworth’s name is being added to the plaque on the City of Wixom’s memorial to all Wixom residents who have died in conflict. City Manager Clarence Goodlein said a new plaque will be unveiled at the small brick monument and memorial on Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m.

The plaque includes armed services emblems on the left side, a tribute to those who lost their lives serving in the armed forces, and the names of those in the armed forces from Wixom who have lost their lives. It is located in front of the city hall, 49045 Pontiac Trail.

“[May 28] is a date his family preserves each year to remember him, so we thought this would be the perfect day to have the ceremony,” said Laure Dorchak, president of the Wixom Historical Society. “Justin’s family members work tirelessly with other families who have been in this situation. We’re really lucky to have a true American hero right here from Wixom. It’s something to honor. It’s a sad but heroic story.”

Dorchak toured Michigan’s Military & Space Heroes Museum and Ellsworth’s name caught her eye. She discussed with historical society members, and they realized his name wasn’t on the Wixom memorial. She then talked with Goodlein, “who said he would make sure the plaque had his name if we planned the ceremony.”

“I was incredulous and I felt so terribly bad that somehow that had been overlooked by the city,” Goodlein said. “I wanted to quickly correct the oversight. The thing that took the longest was having the cast-iron plaque made.”

“We just started to do what we had to do to give tribute to this man who lost his life in defense of his country, his comrades and the country’s ideals,” he added. “People in every direction want to do something to make this very nice. It’s really incredible.”

Goodlein, who knows the family well, fleshed out the details of Ellsworth’s last moments on November 13, 2004. “He had found an improvised explosive device, looked at it and realized it was unwired and radio-operated. He warned other members of his brigade that were nearby. He was going to make sure that no one else got near to the device. He was going to isolate it. It was detonated remotely and he lost his life, while saving the lives of countless other military personnel.”

He summed up his feelings about this event by paraphrasing John, Chapter 15, verse 13: “No greater love has any man than one who would lay down his life for his friends, family or nation.”

“We should never forget Marine Lance Corporal Justin Ellsworth’s heroism and his commitment to honor, duty and this great nation. We should never forgive those responsible for his death,” Goodlein continued.

Many are involved in making sure the event goes off without a hitch. In addition to Dorchak and Goodlein, Nancy Dingeldey of the Wixom Historical Society is involved; so are Pamela Young of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2269 in Wixom and Joanne Sullivan, who works with the Wolverine Lake packing party for gifts to troops at Christmas.

Ellsworth is buried in Lansing, but his family are Wixom residents and members of the First Baptist Church in Wixom, said Dorchak. Their pastor, Brad Stille, “is very important to them. He will read the invocation and sing in the men’s trio during the ceremony.”

Goodlein said other elements of the ceremony include a city representative re-reading the proclamation city council approved on May 9, which declared May 28 as Lance Corporal Justin Ellsworth Day, a suggestion made by local residents Sam and Faye Stamper, a tribute to Ellsworth, and the unveiling of the plaque.

In addition, cards for the family have been sought from those who wish to recognize his sacrifice. “We have a basket with a heart on it and people are depositing cards there to let the Ellsworths know how much the community appreciates Justin’s sacrifice,” Dorchak said.

The response so far has been tremendous and threatens to overflow the basket in which they’re being collected at city hall. School groups, seniors, local merchants/businesses, residents, and others are all “very interested in sending a card,” which, Dorchak added, “shows the number of people who care.”

Those who wish to drop off cards at Wixom City Hall may place them in the basket, located near the clerk’s office; they also may be mailed to: Wixom Historical Society, 49045 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, MI 48393.

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