During 2019, Freedoms Foundation and the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove are paying tribute to the living recipients of the Medal of Honor on the anniversary of the actions for which they earned the nation’s highest award for valor. The series continues with a look at Hospital Corpsman Robert R. Ingram during a battle with a large North Vietnamese force on March 28, 1966, in Quang Ngai Province in South Vietnam.
Robert Ingram’s Medal of Honor citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Corpsman with Company C, First Battalion, Seventh Marines against elements of a North Vietnam Aggressor (NVA) battalion in Quang Ngai Province Republic of Vietnam on 28 March 1966.
“Petty Officer Ingram accompanied the point platoon as it aggressively dispatched an outpost of an NVA battalion. The momentum of the attack rolled off a ridge line down a tree covered slope to a small paddy and a village beyond. Suddenly, the village tree line exploded with an intense hail of automatic rifle fire from approximately 100 North Vietnamese regulars. In mere moments, the platoon ranks were decimated.
“Oblivious to the danger, Petty Officer Ingram crawled across the bullet spattered terrain to reach a downed Marine. As he administered aid, a bullet went through the palm of his hand. Calls for “CORPSMAN” echoed across the ridge. Bleeding, he edged across the fire swept landscape, collecting ammunition from the dead and administering aid to the wounded. Receiving two more wounds before realizing the third wound was life-threatening, he looked for a way off the face of the ridge, but again he heard the call for corpsman and again, he resolutely answered.
“Though severely wounded three times, he rendered aid to those incapable until he finally reached the right flank of the platoon. While dressing the head wound of another corpsman, he sustained his fourth bullet wound. From 1600 hours until just prior to sunset, Petty Officer Ingram pushed, pulled, cajoled, and doctored his Marines. Enduring the pain from his many wounds and disregarding the probability of his demise, Petty Officer Ingram’s intrepid actions saved many lives that day.
“By his indomitable fighting spirit, daring initiative, and unfaltering dedications to duty, Petty Officer Ingram reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
“Ingram left the service in 1968, and became a registered nurse in a family practice in Jacksonville, Florida,” writes Peter Collier in Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. “He had no contact with the men of Charley Company until 1995, when his former platoon leader called him one night. The memories poured out as they talked for hours.
“Several days later, they met, and the officer asked, “What medals did you receive for 28 March?”
“The Purple Heart,” Ingram replied.
Shocked, his former commander blurted out, “You were put in for the Medal of Honor!”
As a result of this conversation, the men of Charley Company reunited and committed themselves to do whatever it tok to make sure Robert Ingram got the recognition he deserved. They gathered the witnesses to Ingram’s actions that day in the rice paddy and worked through political channels to revive the Medal recommendation. In so doing, bonds between the men were reestablished and deepened, and some of the wounds of Vietnam that had separated them were healed.
“When Robert Ingram received the Medal of Honor from President Bill Clinton on July 10, 1998, 24 of the men he served with were with him at the White House.”
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