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Ellis, “Pete” Earl Hancock

Ellis, “Pete” Earl Hancock (1880–1923), Marine officer and amphibious warfare specialist.Ellis was a prophetic strategist and tactician whose 1921 plan anticipated the U.S. Navy's Central Pacific campaign of World War II. He enlisted as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1900 and was commissioned a year later. Five years' service in the Philippines and eighteen months with the Asiatic Fleet acquainted him with the Far East and with the Defense of Subic Bay. While at the Naval War College from 1911 to 1913, as student and a faculty member, Ellis developed his vision of amphibious assault operations and prepared studies for the defense of such Pacific islands as Guam, Peleliu, and Samoa. In 1914, after participating in the first advanced base exercise he reported to Guam to help plan its defense. He joined the staff of Marine Gen. John A. Lejeune in Washington and later accompanied Lejeune to France in 1917–1918. In 1920, Maj. Ellis was assigned to USMC headquarters, under now Commandant Lejeune. There Ellis prepared his major work, a seminal report entitled Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia, in which he prescribed amphibious assault operations to seize islands needed as advanced bases to support the naval campaign against Japan. In 1922, Lejeune granted Ellis permission for a covert mission to Micronesia to ascertain if any of the bases had been fortified. Ellis died on the trip in 1923 under mysterious circumstances. Despite rumors, no evidence exists of Japanese involvement in his death, which was instead consistent with Ellis's accelerating alcoholism.
[See also Amphibious Warfare; Marine Corps, U.S.: 1914–45.]


Earl H. Ellis , Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia, 1921.
Dirk A. Ballendorf and and Merrill L. Bartlett , Pete Ellis, An Amphibious Prophet, 1880–1923, 1997.

Suzanne Borghei and and Victor J. Croziat

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