[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[July 10, 1998]
[Pages 1215-1216]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor to Hospital 
Corpsman Third Class Robert R. Ingram, USN
July 10, 1998

    Welcome. Thank you, Admiral, for your invocation. Ladies and 
gentlemen, welcome to the White House. I thank Secretary Cohen and 
Secretary West, Secretary Gober, Deputy Secretary Hamre, Secretary 
Dalton, Secretary Caldera, Acting Air Force Secretary Peters, General 
Shelton, and other members of the Joint Chiefs, and general officers 
here present today. I thank the Members of the Congress from the Florida 
delegation who are here, and other Members of Congress, including 
Senator Thurmond, Senator Graham, Senator Mack, Senator Glenn, Senator 
Cleland, Representative Brown, Representative McHale, and all those in 
Congress whose action helped to make this day possible.
    Today we present the Medal of Honor, our Nation's highest military 
honor, to Robert R. Ingram for extraordinary heroism above and beyond 
the call of duty on March 28, 1966, in Quang Ngai Province, South 
    Today, more than 30 years later, Bob Ingram is manager of a medical 
service practice in Jacksonville, a registered nurse, a man who loves to 
work on cars. His wife, Doris, his children, and his close friends are 
here with us today, and we welcome them.
    His story spans decades and continents, but across these divides, 
friendship and loyalty have endured and have brought us to this moment. 
Mr. Ingram enlisted in the Navy in 1963 and joined the Hospital Corps. 
He went to Vietnam with Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, in July 
    One day in February of 1966, the company came under heavy fire, and 
Petty Officer Ingram rushed forward to treat the wounded. Enemy bullets 
punctured both his canteens. When the unit's machine gunner was hit, he 
manned the gun. And for his bravery on that day, he received the Silver 
    On March 28, 1966, Petty Officer Ingram accompanied the point 
platoon of his company as it was suddenly attacked by 100 North 
Vietnamese in a hail of automatic rifle fire. In moments, the platoon 
was decimated. Oblivious to the danger, he crawled across the terrain to 
reach a wounded marine. While administering aid, a bullet went through 
his hand. After administering aid there, he heard more calls for a 
corpsman. Still bleeding, he edged across the fire-swept landscape, 
collecting ammunition from the dead and attending to the wounded, 
receiving two additional wounds from rifle fire.
    Though severely wounded, he continued administering aid to the 
wounded and the dying

[[Page 1216]]

marines while gathering ammunition and encouraging others capable of 
doing so to return fire. While dressing the head wound of another 
corpsman, he sustained his fourth wound. Enduring extreme pain from his 
own wounds and disregarding the probability of his own death, Petty 
Officer Ingram pushed, pulled, cajoled, and doctored his marines for 
hours more. Losing strength and almost unrecognizable from his injuries, 
finally he was pulled to safety, where he tried to refuse evacuation, 
saying that others should go first. His vital signs dropped to the point 
that he was tagged ``killed in action'' and placed in a dead pile.
    But, as you can see, he did not die. Eleven members of Charlie 
Company, however, were killed that day, and 53 more were wounded. Some 
are alive today because of the extraordinary selflessness and bravery of 
Robert Ingram.
    Harvey Kappeler, a corporal in the lead platoon, wrote last year, 
``I observed Robert Ingram perform acts of heroism I have never seen 
before, during, or after my tour of Vietnam.'' Mr. Ingram later 
recalled, ``I was just doing my job; my job was to take care of the 
    Three weeks after the attack, he wrote his platoon from his hospital 
bed: ``I've got a tube in my throat, leg elevated, arm elevated, can't 
move, but I wanted you all to know I'm still alive.'' After 8 months 
recovering, he went back to sea on another deployment.
    Other members of the company were honored for their bravery on that 
day in March of 1966, but no one doubted that Robert Ingram deserved the 
highest honor. We don't know how his citation got 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 3d Platoon of Charlie Company. In 1995 
he organized a reunion of members of the battalion, including Bob 
Ingram. They remembered the war, the endless cold soaking rains, the 
terrible firefights. And Ingram's friends resolved to do everything 
possible to ensure that America finally gave him appropriate 
    Charlie Company's commander, Ben Goodwyn, wrote to General Krulak, 
``I saw my fair share of combat in Vietnam. Of all the men I brought 
with me, Doc Ingram was undoubtedly the most courageous.''
    Mr. Ingram is the 22d Navy corpsman to receive the Medal of Honor, 
and his reward comes appropriately as we celebrate the 100th anniversary 
of the Navy Hospital Corps. Through all our conflicts, they have been 
there on ships at sea, on the front lines, performing foxhole surgery, 
saving thousands of lives while risking and sometimes sacrificing their 
own. I salute their courageous service 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 that day, ``As I grow old, 
I look back to that day and the heroism of the marines and our Navy 
corpsman, and I understand what is meant by the highest traditions of 
service. I am extremely proud to call Robert Ingram a friend.''
    On that battlefield so many years ago, Robert Ingram performed truly 
heroic deeds and asked for nothing in return. At long last, it is time 
to honor him.
    Mr. Ingram, on behalf of all Americans, we thank you for your 
service, for your courage, for your determination, for your loyalty to 
comrades and country. We are all proud to call you an American. Hillary 
and I are proud that you are in the White House with us today, and I am 
very proud to award you the Medal of Honor.
    Major Everhart, read the citation.

[At this point, Maj. Carlton Everhart, USAF, Air Force Aide to the 
President, read the citation, and Lt. Comdr. Wesley Huey, USN, Naval 
Aide to the President, assisted the President in presenting the medal.]

Note: The President spoke at 3:18 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the 
White House. In his remarks, he referred to Rear Adm. A. Byron Holderby, 
USN, Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Navy, who offered the invocation.