Chad Ellinger Biosketch
Chad was born and raised in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. He joined the Marine Corps two days after Christmas in 1999. Five years came and went and in the summer of 2004, he was called to duty in Iraq. He was stationed at Camp Fallujah in the Al Anbar province. In November of that same year, the decision was made by top military leaders to invade the city of Fallujah in a full court press to stabilize the area and bring an acceptable level of peace to citizens across the region.
Fallujah was a large city with an estimated population of 300,000. The evidence was overwhelming that the city played host to several extremist groups who were conducting their operations deep within the city. Their operations included IED construction, drug rings, and extortion of local police and civilians.
The battle was grueling and intense. There were approximately 95 American troops killed and another 580 wounded. Chad lost many close friends including one fellow Marine, Brad Arms, who helped save Chad’s life. Chad was injured on the third day of fighting when a 12-foot high stone wall fell on top of him, covering his entire body from the neck down. He doesn’t remember how the wall fell on him, but recalls reading a copy of the after action report that stated an explosion on the opposite side of the wall was the cause.
Trapped and buried alive, Chad yelled in pain for someone to get him out. Without regard for their own lives, several Marines rushed to his aid. Their first attempt to remove a large stone pillar off Chad’s body was unsuccessful and the pillar had to be laid back down on top of him. More Marines raced to the scene and the second attempt yielded just enough room to drag him from the rubble.
Chad was ushered away in a harrowing HUMVEE ride where he later ended up at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and then the National Navel Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Chad’s injuries included a shattered pelvis and right arm, broken right leg and hand, fractured left hip girdle, and partially amputated right ring finger. In addition, he sustained internal injuries and nerve damage along his right side. The doctor’s prognosis was divided with Chad being told his ability to walk might not come to fruition.
After nearly two years of physical therapy, dozens of ice packs, and tons of support, Chad is a mobile man. During his recovery, his first child was born, Morgan. Four years later, his son, Tripp made his appearance.
Chad currently works as the Fleet Operations Manager in one of the nine districts of the Virginia Department of Transportation. In 2011, Chad finally finished one of his lifelong dreams by graduating Cum Laude with his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Organizational Development.
Since his injuries, Chad has spoken at several public, business, and civic events where he shares his experiences in the military and discusses the many facets surrounding a successful recovery. Just recently, he spoke to a group of regional leaders at the Federal Highway Administration office in Richmond, Virginia.
In closing, one of Chad’s passions is woodworking. He states this activity has been a cornerstone in his recovery. He loves recycling old wood into new furniture items. His oddest creation to date is the hutch in his kitchen that was built from wood he picked up while taking trash to the dump. Chad dreams of one day filling his barn with enough woodworking gear and tools that he doesn’t have to continue to ask his neighbors for theirs… For now, that dream is on hold while he enjoys raising his two children.