Leroy Elliott

Gunnery Sergeant
United States Marine Corps
28 September 1931 - 08 May 1967
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 19E Line 057


Leroy Elliott

Purple Heart, USMC Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Leroy Elliott

07 Oct 2002

The photos and following article are taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987. The special supplement was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Philadelphia Viet Nam Memorial.
"Gunnery Sergeant Elliott was a black Philadelphian and I was a white Georgian. But those facts of life were never and will never be important", wrote Stephen B. Gray, who as a young Marine recruit had Elliott as a senior drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C. Gray never saw Elliott again after he finished boot camp in May 1965, but said he will always remember the imposing Philadelphian for enabling him to gain "the beginnings of the strengths of character, purpose, direction and never say quit attitude which has enabled me to achieve meaningful success thus far in my life ... He showed me qualities that knew no color." Elliott, a 15-year veteran, left his comfortable stateside drill sergeant assignment to volunteer for Viet Nam in December 1966.

"He taught our son ... so many values at such an early age so he could grow up and walk like a man. He gave us so much, as if he knew that we would have to walk up the road of life without him", his wife recalled. The 35-year-old gunnery sergeant was assigned to Company D of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Elliott died near Con Thien, Quang Tri Province, on May 8, 1967. Survivors included his wife, son, father and a brother.

A letter from Stephen Gray about Elliott and other photos served as the back cover of the special supplement.

In February, 1965, I was an eighteen year old college dropout in search of direction. From Gunnery Sergeant Elliott I gained the beginnings of the strength of character, purposeful direction and never say quit attitude which has enabled me to achieve meaningful success thus far in my life. Those attributes will remain with me until I join Gunnery Sergeant Elliott. Their seeds were sown by him during many hours of drill, forced marches, physical training and instruction in the profession of being a Marine. I served as a commissioned Officer in the Marine Corps from 1973 to 1984 and never served a day that the lessons of character and perservance taught me by Gunnery Sergeant Elliott did not affect how I led my Marines.

Gunnery Sergeant Elliott was a black Philadelphian and I am a white Georgian. But those facts of life were never and will never be important. He wanted me, as well as each member of our platoon, to be a proud and throughly capable Marine. He showed me qualities that knew no color. Honor, integrity, pride, strength of character and dignity are rarely found embodied in one man. However, in Gunnery Sergeant Elliott I felt them resident in large measure.

I am honored to have my first-born son named in his memory. I am honored to have known him and served with him. Philadelphians and all Americans can be honored that he was, and is, ours. Please ensure that his name is properly and respectfully enscribed on the (Philadelphia) memorial. I pray that this letter will help ensure his memory will live on.

Stephen B. Gray Jr.
Formerly Captain,
United States Marine Corps

Stephen B. Gray Jr. and family


From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

09 Nov 2005

I will never forget my Senior Drill Instructor. I was 17 years old and this man changed my life forever. He was funny and at times could be real scary. I'm proud to have had the honor of knowing him. I later served in Quang Tri also 1968-1969. May God bless his family!

Sgt William M. (Bill) Spicer
Plt 1025 Graduated 1/20/66

03 Nov 2006

Gunnery Sergeant Elliott was my Senior Drill Instructor.

Our son, Matthew Elliott Grey, who was named in Gunnery Sergeant Elliott's honor, is today First Lieutenant Matthew Elliott Grey, United States Marine Corps. He is flying the F-18 Hornet. Gunnery Sergeant Elliott's name and legacy live on in the Corps.

Steve Grey
Platoon 116
Parris Island, SC

Note from The Virtual Wall: Mr. Gray wrote the letter quoted in a previous entry above.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, was among the Allied forces engaged in bitter fighting around Con Thien on 08 May 1967. The 1/4 Marines lost 36 men on that day, half of them from Delta Company:
  • GySgt Leroy Elliott, Philadelphia, PA
  • Cpl John H. Boudreau, Birmingham, MI
  • Cpl Abel D. Garcia, San Antonio, TX
  • Cpl Ralph H. Watington, New York, NY (Silver Star)
  • LCpl Denny L. Johnson, Weinert, TX
  • LCpl Gary F. Mc Cue, Bloomington, MN
  • LCpl Calvin A. Parks, Tucson, AZ
  • LCpl Leo J. Sullivan, Boston, MA
  • Pfc Edward V. Asip, Amityville, NY
  • Pfc Kenneth V. Avery, Seattle, WA
  • Pfc Leon L. Cornwell, Philadelphia, PA
  • Pfc Cecil R. Jenkins, Taylors Island, MD
  • Pfc Robert L. Margolis, Van Nuys, CA
  • Pfc Thomas V. Ruff, Elkton, MD
  • Pfc Donald Williams, Eastman, GA
  • Pfc Vomer O. Wilson, West Monroe, LA
  • Pvt Larry F. Jankowski, South Bend, IN
  • Pvt Jesus M. Limones, Del Rio, TX (Silver Star)

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 3 May 2003
Last updated 11/18/2006