Serving in the Armed Forces certainly can be an adventure but for a local couple it was something more. In 1970, Scott Ellestad enlisted in the Air Force and, unbeknownst to him, in a few states away the following year the future Mrs. Ellestad, also joined the Air Force. It would be many years before the couple would meet and fall in love.
The Mesquite Veterans Center wanted to acknowledge the service of women veterans and sent out a request for former military women to donate uniforms to the center. Barbara Ellestad immediately answered the call as did former Marine Corps Corporal Jennifer Edmonds. Ellestad also mentioned her husband was a retired military veteran and would be proud to donate his uniform also to recall the sacrifices of married military couples.
“We want to honor the contributions of women in the military,” said Ken Maynard, Vice President of Mesquite Veterans Center. “Women are a very important part of the military as are military couples who through their efforts help make the Armed Forces the success that it is. We didn't want the veterans center to be just a boys club.”
Scott Ellestad served as a loadmaster working on the Air Force cargo planes while steadily moving up through the ranks and eventually becoming the Chief Loadmaster for the Military Airlift Command. At the same time, Barbara was enjoying her career in the military assigned to important administrative posts often handling classified information. Like Scott, the Air Force recognized her talent and they became one of their best and brightest non-commissioned officers.
As the years passed by, both of them were near the pinnacle of the careers and were offered the chance to attend the Senior Non-commissioned Officers Academy in Montgomery, Alabama. The school was reserved for very senior military personnel who were identified as having the potential to be important military leaders of the future. Both had achieved Senior Master Sergeant status with only one more promotion to go to attain the highest enlisted rank.
Scott and Barbara met at the prestigious Senior NCO Academy and only a week into the school, they found they had something in common, they both loved golf. Their first date was playing golf together and something else happened, the spark of romance flickered. They had an attraction to each other but she was assigned to a Denver base while Scott was in St. Louis. It didn't take Scott long to realize she was an important part of his life and at Christmas, he gave her a ring and asked her to marry him. In January, they flew to beautiful Las Vegas to be married.
After more than 20 years of service, they both retired at the highest enlisted rank possible. First moving to Bozeman, Montana they stayed for seven years until the weather got too much for them and in 2001 they came to Mesquite. Why ? Warm weather and golf.
As Memorial Day arrives, it is time to remember the men and women who fight for peace so that others don't need to. Military personnel work for peace at home and abroad so we can live a better life. They endure the pain of separation and the strife of military life. Military couples like the Ellestads deserve our appreciation. There is possibly not a more admirable calling.
The uniforms on display in the Mesquite Veterans Center tell the stories of brave men and women who are willing to take the risk of being sent into harms way. The ribbons on their chest and the insignia on their sleeves tell of their devotion to serving proudly in the military.
Reaching the highest pinnacle of a career is accomplished by only a select few willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be the best in their chosen profession. Barbara and Scott Ellestad are two of those people. We are fortunate to have them as part of our community. Scott works at Wolf Creek Golf Course and Barbara is the editor and publisher of the highly successful Mesquite Citizen Journal. Next time you see them, say thanks. Their uniforms are on display at the Mesquite Veterans Center, 840 Hafen Lane.