Vern Ellis ’62, Colonel, USAF [retired]

Vern Ellis was born May 22, 1939 in Coolidge, Arizona and graduated from Yuma Union High School in 1957. Vern “V.D.” to his FIJI brothers-was an outstanding athlete in high school and also at the University of Arizona, where he pledged Upsilon Alpha in 1957.

Vern’s athletic record at the University of Arizona was outstanding. He was a four-year letterman for the varsity wrestling team, and while serving as IFC Vice President, quarterbacked the University’s IFC flag football team to a 28-0 victory over the ASU IFC in Tempe on the UA-ASU football weekend. He was a member of Sophos and Bobcats honorary and served as President of Upsilon Alpha during 1961-62. those 27 years. Upon leaving Thailand, Vern was presented with the “Order of the White Elephant” by the Thai military, and upon retirement, Vern received the Defense Superior Service Awarhis service in Bangkok.

Brother Ellis concluded his Air Force career as a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Airman’s Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with service star, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Air Service Medal, and Republic of VieMedal.

Within a month of leaving the Air Force, Vern became a United Airlines pilot and spent 12 years with United, flying and instructing in a variety of aircraft, including the Boeing 737, 757, 767, and the Airbus A-320. Vern retired from United in January 2002, four months after the World Trade Center attacks. Vern and Scotty reside in Castle Rock, Colorado where V.D. whard on his golf game and fly fishing technique. They both love oreign travel, and work with the Junior Golf Academy at Red Rock Ridge course in Castle Rock keeps them busy.

Brother Ellis and his wife were blessed with two daughters, Cammie and Holly. Cammie resides in Parker, Colorado. Holly was tragically killed in an auto accident near Telluride, Colorado in 1993.

When asked what Upsilon Alpha has meant to him Brother Ellis had this to say, “Fraternity Rush, to me, was a bit of a blur over 50 years ago. But I still remember, to this day, my first exposure to Upsilon Alpha and Phi Gamma Delta. The men I encountered: Ham McRae, Al Baber, Gordon Alley, Ron Harper, and Tom Crowe, my eventual pledge father, and all the rest at Upsilon Alpha were a cut above the others I met at other fraternities during rush. When rush was over and I received that small white star symbolizing my acceptance into this group of campus leaders, little did I know how much influence this singular event would have on my life. The 20-plus men of my pledge class became my closest band of brothers as we met the constant tests of character, inner strength, mutual support, and unity head-on. These challenges were mighty influences on how we were each molded and ultimately prepared for our lives ahead. I firmly believe that one of the greatest gifts that I have received from my fraternity was the gift of confidence when my brothers of Upsilon Alpha selected me to serve as president of their outstanding chapter. My first and strongest challenge as a leader came from my brothers of Phi Gamma Delta. That experience has sustained me through many challenges over the course of my 27 years as an Air Force officer. I know I felt it 50 years ago mighty proud to be a Fiji.”