Today, most of us tend to take for granted the impressive amphibious capability of the U.S. Marines. But it was not always so, and we have Earl Hancock Ellis—better known as "Pete"—to thank for laying the groundwork of the transformation that changed the Marines from a mere naval infantry component into the world's finest amphibious force. He was also responsible in large measure for the U.S. victory in the Pacific during World War II.
As is often the case with those who have the vision and the wherewithal to effect sweeping changes, Pete Ellis was an iconoclast. He was never timid about rocking the boat and made as many enemies as friends when he challenged conventional thinking in unconventional ways.
Winner of the Croix de Guerre and Navy Cross in World War I, Ellis returned from the field of battle not to rest on laurels but to look ahead to the next war. Though critical of the failed British assault on Gallipoli, Ellis chose not to reject amphibious landings-as many of his contemporaries urged-but to learn from the debacle and find ways to make this technique work.