Elwell, of Warrensburg, Missouri, was wounded while serving as a sergeant with a U.S. Army infantry unit in Korea in 1951. The recipient of a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, he later joined the Missouri National Guard and received a commission as a first lieutenant. On August 6, 1963, while completing annual training at Camp Ripley, Minnesota with the 635th Aviation Company, Lt. Elw ell was a passenger in a L-19 single-engine reconnaissance that crashed and burned during a training exercise, killing both Elwell and the pilot. The remains of the 30-year-old officer were interred in Warrensburg Memorial Gardens Cemetery. At the time of his death, he left behind a wife and two young daughters.