A Tenacious Spirit – Veterans Day 2015

We are at Fort Leavenworth for the year because my husband is attending Command and General Staff College (CGSC). His CGSC Small Group is comprised of 16 military members representing a variety of branches, specialities and experiences – a true cross-section of the military. So when the Marine in his Small Group invited us to attend the United States Marine Corps 240th Birthday Ball at Fort Leavenworth, we gladly accepted and looked forward to experiencing another branch’s birthday celebration.

We were a little late to cocktail hour because we were watching the end of the Clemson/FSU game. Go Tigers!

Over the years, we’ve attended countless formal military events together – my first being a Clemson ROTC Dining Out as a young 18-year-old freshman. Since then, we’ve dined on banquet-quality chicken, drank cheap wine while toasting the President of the United States, and listened to numerous Generals bestow their wisdom upon us. But we’ve never experienced an honored guest quite like SSgt Jerry Ingram, USMC. So perhaps that’s why it seems fitting to write about him this Veterans Day.

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{source – The Kansas City Star}

Staff Sergeant Jerry Ingram enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1942 at the age of fifteen. At sixteen, he became a tank commander with the 4th Tanks and participated in the amphibious landings and battles within the Central Pacific at Roi-Namur, Saipan, and Tinian. As a seventeen-year-old, he went ashore at Iwo Jima with the 4th Marine Division. Following WW2, Jerry as a tank platoon sergeant with 1st Tank Battalion, First Marine Division in North China (Tientsin). He then served in the USMC Reserve while earning his degree from University of Kansas, graduating in 1952. For the 30 minutes he spoke, he held the attention of the room as he discussed how the fighting spirit he earned as a Marine and his faith in God carried him through some of the darkest moments of his life.

In 1981, he survived the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel fire – the only one in his elevator to do so. He has had over 400 subsequent surgeries and continues to have a hand in the operations of the company he owns. His body is slowing down but his spirit is just as tenacious as ever. It was an honor to hear SSgt Jerry Ingram speak and I doubt his heartening words will ever leave me.


{source – USMC Archives}

Pictures of the veterans in my life hang in our house – a daily reminder of the sacrifices made by generations before us. This Veterans Day, go beyond #thankaveteran. Go to a parade and shake hands with a veteran. Give food to a homeless veteran. Listen to a veteran living in a halfway house. Hire a veteran desperate for work. Donate to a worthwhile cause. And please don’t forget about the day after Veterans Day either.


4 thoughts on “A Tenacious Spirit – Veterans Day 2015

  1. So true! I should be out there giving a little more. I come from a proud line of 4 consecutive generations of servicemen, from World War I to my brother who left the Navy in 2013. I hope to pass that love of God and country on to my little boys. You guys look great! Big hugs to you!!!

  2. Thank you writing this (even though it was a few years ago) – Jerry is my Grandfather! He’s been an inspiration to everyone he touches and we are in constant awe at what he has survived. Today, my oldest son, his oldest Great-Grandson, is now a Marine, following in Jerry’s footsteps!

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