MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — -- People measure their lives in different ways, some measure it by how many cars they own, some measure it by how much weight they can lift, and some people live their life to accomplish goals they have set for themselves.
Roy Ells is the financial specialist with the Health Promotion Office, Marine Corps Community Services, and he helps Marines, sailors and their families set financial goals everyday and gives them the knowledge to achieve their goals in his weekly financial classes.
Ells started his job as the financial specialist when he retired from the Marine Corps in 1996 as a chief warrant officer four in intelligence. Instead of carrying a rifle or processing intelligence information, he now carries a calculator and uses it to help dispense financial wisdom.
“I had always been interested in my family’s personal finances,” said Ells. “In my own life, my wife and I always had to pay attention to how much we made to make sure we had the bills paid and some left over.”
Ells started his Marine Corps career in 1968 as an infantryman and had wanted to join the Marine Corps at a young age.
“I don’t know why I joined the Marine Corps. I always wanted to be a Marine. I had couple of uncles who were in the Marine Corps,” said Ells. “The Sands of Iwo Jima had a big impact on me.”
Things were a lot different in the Marine Corps than when it came to pay, according to Ells.
“When I came into the Marine Corps we had a cash pay day. We lined up in front of the first sergeant in our alpha uniform with our weapon, dog tags, and ID card and we got inspected,” Ells said. “If you needed a hair cut or a shave if or you were not squared away, you went back to the barracks and maybe you got paid on Monday.”
Ells left the Marine Corps in, 1972 but stayed in the Army reserves. This was the same year that he met his wife, which he later married the same year. He went on to return to active duty in the Marine Corps where he went from an E-7 in the Army reserve to an E-4 in the active duty Marine Corps.
“The only reason I left is because I wanted to be a pipe fitter,” said Ells. “After five - six years as a pipe fitter, I decided I wanted to be a Marine again. I just enjoyed what I did as a Marine.”
After coming on to active duty, Ells made a lateral move to the intelligence field where his new goal was to become a chief warrant officer four.
After retiring in 1996, Ells’ goal was to become a high school teacher but when he heard about the financial specialist job here he applied because he wanted to be around Marines and help educate them.
“[Ells] is very knowledgeable and confident in his classes,” said Cpl. Everette Bryant the consolidated memorandum report noncommissioned officer with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, who attended his classes. “He is good at keeping your attention in the class.”
On top of his weekly classes, Ells also provides Marines one-on-one financial counseling by appointment. He also travels to various units around Camp Lejeune to give classes on personal finances.
“It’s a real honor to work for the Marines and pass on knowledge to them so they have some tools for life,” Ells said.