Robert Roland Ingram, USN
NAVY MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT
HOSPITAL CORPSMAN THIRD CLASS
Robert Roland Ingram was born on 20 January 1945 in Clearwater, Florida. In November 1963, at age 18, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy. After completing recruit training in San Diego, California, he requested and was assigned to Hospital Corps School. He later completed Field Medical Service School at Camp Pendleton, California.
After a short tour with Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, he transferred to Company C of the same battalion in late spring of 1965. The unit arrived in Vietnam in July of that year after concluding further training in Okinawa, Japan. During a fierce engagement on 8 February 1966, HM3 Ingram rushed forward while under fire to treat between 12 and 14 wounded Marines. For his actions that day, he received the Silver Star.
On 28 March 1966, HM3 Ingram’s unit was attacked by a much larger enemy force. Within minutes, over 300 automatic weapons opened fire, killing or wounding all in the lead squad of Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. Immediately, HM3 Ingram moved into the fire-swept field to aid the downed Marines.
Hospital Corpsman Third Class Ingram was shot through the hand while treating a wounded Marine but continued on. He was rushing to another casualty when another bullet tore through his knee. Although he was struggling to move, HM3 continued to respond to calls for aid when an enemy soldier shot him in the face, directly below the right eye. Still he continued to assist the wounded Marines.
Throughout the battle, HM3 Ingram seized weapons and ammunition from his patients, firing to suppress enemy attacks and thereby protect the Marines. Finally, while tending to a fallen hospital corpsman, a fourth shot went through HM3 Ingram’s groin and buttocks. Despite blood loss and agonizing pain, he managed to crawl back to friendly lines. Even then, he tried to delay his medical evacuation, asking that the injured Marines go first. His recovery took eight months, but HM3 Ingram eventually was able to return to duty. For his selflessness, he was nominated for the Medal of Honor.
After HM3 Ingram was discharged from the Navy in 1968, he enrolled in college to pursue a degree in nursing. He became a registered nurse and eventually worked as a nurse and operations manager at a family practice in his home state of Florida.
During a unit reunion in 1995, the Marines discovered that the original Medal of Honor nomination for HM3 Ingram had been lost. The nomination was re-submitted and finally, 32 years after the action, Mr. Ingram received his Medal of Honor. President William J. Clinton presented the award to him in a ceremony in the White House on 10 July 1998—20 years after the last Medal of Honor was awarded to a Navy Sailor.
Medal of Honor citation
Ingram’s official 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 sixteen hundred 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.
Medal of Honor recipient Robert Ingram describes his actions as a Hospital Corpsman during the Vietnam War.
Tip to Human Events:
Medal of Honor Roll Call: Robert R. Ingram
Ignoring his own safety, Navy Corpsman pressed on to save many Marines
by Robert J. Laplander