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President Presents Medal of Honor to Robert R. Ingram

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 10, 1998


State Dining Room

3:18 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome. Thank you, Admiral, for yourinvocation. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the White House. Ithank Secretary Cohen and Secretary West, Secretary Gober, DeputySecretary Hamre, Secretary Dalton, Secretary Caldera, Acting AirForce Secretary Peters, General Shelton, and other members of theJoint Chiefs, and general officers here present today. I thank themembers of the Congress from the Florida delegation who are here, andother members of Congress, including Senator Thurmond, SenatorGraham, Senator Mack, Senator Glenn, Senator Cleland, RepresentativeBrown, Representative McHale, and all those in Congress whose actionhelped to make this day possible.

Today we present the Medal of Honor, our nation'shighest military honor, to Robert R. Ingram for extraordinary heroismabove and beyond the call of duty on March 28, 1966, in Quang NgaiProvince, South Vietnam.

Today, more than 30 years later, Bob Ingram is managerof a medical service practice in Jacksonville, a registered nurse, aman who loves to work on cars. His wife, Doris, his children and hisclose friends are here with us today, and we welcome them.

His story spans decades and continents, but across thesedivides friendship and loyalty have endured and have brought us tothis moment. Mr. Ingram enlisted in the Navy in 1963 and joined theHospital Corps. He went to Vietnam with Company C, 1st Battalion,7th Marines, in July, 1965.

One day in February of 1966, the company came underheavy fire and Petty Officer Ingram rushed forward to treat thewounded. Enemy bullets punctured both his canteens. When the unit'smachine gunner was hit, he manned the gun. And for his bravery onthat day, he received the Silver Star.

On March 28, 1966, Petty Officer Ingram accompanied thepoint platoon of his company as it was suddenly attacked by 100 NorthVietnamese in a hail of automatic rifle fire. In moments, theplatoon was decimated. Oblivious to the danger, he crawled acrossthe terrain to reach a wounded Marine. While administering aid, abullet went through his hand. After administering aid there he heardmore calls for a corpsman. Still bleeding, he edged across thefire-swept landscape, collecting ammunition from the dead, andattending to the wounded, receiving two additional wounds from riflefire.

Though severely wounded, he continued administering aidto the wounded and the dying Marines while gathering ammunition andencouraging others, capable of doing so, to return fire. Whiledressing the head wound of another corpsman he sustained his fourthwound. Enduring extreme pain from his own wounds and disregardingthe probability of his own death, Petty Officer Ingram pushed,pulled, cajoled, and doctored his Marines for hours more. Losingstrength and almost unrecognizable from his injuries, finally he waspulled to safety, where he tried to refuse evacuation, saying thatothers should go first. His vital signs dropped to the point that hewas tagged "killed in action" and placed in a dead pile.

But, as you can see, he did not die. Eleven members ofCharlie Company, however, were killed that day, and 53 more werewounded. Some are alive today because of the extraordinaryselflessness and bravery of Robert Ingram.

Harvey Kappeler, a Corporal in the lead platoon, wrotelast year, "I observed Robert Ingram perform acts of heroism I havenever seen before, during, or after my tour of Vietnam." Mr. Ingramlater recalled, "I was just doing my job -- my job was to take careof the men."

Three weeks after the attack, he wrote his platoon fromhis hospital bed: "I've got a tube in my throat, leg elevated, armelevated, can't move, but I wanted you all to know I'm still alive."After eight months recovering, he went back to sea on anotherdeployment.

Other members of the company were honored for theirbravery on that day in March of 1966, but no one doubted that RobertIngram deserved the highest honor. We don't know how his citationgot lost all those years ago, but we do know why he is here today --because his friends never forgot what he did for them.

Jim Fulkerson commanded the 3rd Platoon of CharlieCompany. In 1995, he organized a reunion of members of thebattalion, including Bob Ingram. They remembered the war, theendless cold, soaking rains, the terrible firefights. And Ingram'sfriends resolved to do everything possible to ensure that Americafinally gave him appropriate recognition.

Charlie Company's commander, Ben Goodwyn, wrote toGeneral Krulak, "I saw my fair share of combat in Vietnam. Of allthe men I brought with me, Doc Ingram was undoubtedly the mostcourageous."

Mr. Ingram is the 22nd Navy corpsman to receive theMedal of Honor, and his reward comes appropriately as we celebratethe 100th anniversary of the Navy Hospital Corps. Through all ourconflicts, they have been there on ships at sea, on the front lines,performing foxhole surgery, saving thousands of lives while riskingand sometimes sacrificing their own. I salute their courageousservice to our nation.

The last troops left Vietnam almost 25 years ago now.But we do not, and we must not, forget their sacrifices and bravery.As Mr. Kappeler recently wrote of the firefight in Quang Ngai thatday, "As I grow old, I look back to that day, and the heroism of theMarines and our Navy Corpsman, and I understand what is meant by thehighest traditions of service. I am extremely proud to call RobertIngram a friend."

On that battlefield so many years ago, Robert Ingramperformed truly heroic deeds, and asked for nothing in return. Atlong last, it is time to honor him.

Mr. Ingram, on behalf of all Americans, we thank you foryour service, for your courage, for your determination, for yourloyalty to comrades and country. We are all proud to call you anAmerican. Hillary and I are proud that you are in the White Housewith us today, and I am very proud to award you the Medal of Honor.

Major Everhart, read the citation.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)

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