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Ray Elliott

Ray Elliott, author of "Wild Hands Toward the Sky," a post-World War II novel from the point of view of a 5-year-old boy whose father was a Marine killed on Guadalcanal before the boy can remember, and "Iwo Blasted Again," a novella about an aging Iwo Jima veteran in the last 36 hours of his life (released October 2006), has been a Marine, a farmer, an oil field roughneck, a construction worker, a truck driver, a bartender and a high school and college English and journalism educator in American public high schools and universities for more than 25 years. He retired from the classroom in 1999 to write full time.

During his enlistment in the Marine Corps, he served in the infantry with Charlie Company, First Battalion, Seventh Regiment, First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., as a brig guard and turnkey in the guard company at Sangley Point, Luzon, Republic of the Philippines, and in the artillery with India Company Third Battalion, Tenth Regiment, Second Marine Division at Camp Lejuene, N.C.

As a journalist, he has been an editor, a publisher and an author of numerous works of nonfiction and has been a freelance writer since 1977, in addition to writing a personal column that was carried by a dozen regional newspapers in Central and Southern Illinois throughout this time. The strong interviewing skills and frank observations of human actions and motivations he has gained by these experiences are reflected in his writing.

Elliott is a board member and president of The James Jones Literary Society (a group that promotes public interest and academic research in the author's World War II novels "From Here To Eternity," "The Thin Red Line," "The Pistol," "Whistle" and the non-fiction "WWII"), a board member of the Illinois Center for the Book, and a member of the newly formed Richard L. Pittman Marine Corps League in Urbana-Champaign, Ill., he helped form.

Elliott is also an Illinois Humanities Council Road Scholar, offering two presentations entitled "James Jones: The Evolution of a Soldier and a Writer" and "The De-Evolution of a Soldier and its Effects on Others" to Illinois non-profit organizations. And he continues to work with and encourage aspiring writers of all ages to find those stories within their own lives that hold up a mirror to life and reveal aspects of life to which others can relate.

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