Beloved Kansas veteran Iwo Jima dies on Pearl Harbor day
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – One of Iwo Jima’s survivors died Tuesday, Pearl Harbor Day. FOX4 has highlighted Navy veteran Jerry Ingram several times over the years. He was 94 years old.
People who knew Ingram will tell you that he always lived boldly. When he was 15, he lied about his age and joined the Marines after seeing devastation at Pearl Harbor. Ingram has spent his life fighting for his country and giving back to the community.
Friends say Ingram is undoubtedly an American hero. Paul Chapa with Friends in Service of Heroes, or FISH, says he feels like Jerry knew it was time for him to go.
“Pearl Harbor was attacked at 7:55 am Jerry came by at 7:50 am Dates mattered a lot to Jerry and it’s a date we will never forget,” Chapa said.
Ingram felt a duty to his country after Pear Harbor that would lead him through the rest of his life. His friend and Navy veteran Rick “Doc” Pustka said Ingram was a Marine through and through.
“There are two important days in the life of a Marine. One is when he was born and the other is when he realizes why he was, and Jerry knew why he was, ”said Pustka.
When Ingram went to Iwo Jima, he left with a team of men, but returned alone.
“In Jerry’s unit, he was the only survivor,” Chapa said.
“Tinian was one of the worst battles in the South Pacific and he was the last tank still standing. But it was all behind him. All he wanted was to give back, ”said Pustka.
Ingram didn’t just outlive Iwo Jima. He also survived the Hilton Hotel fire in Las Vegas 40 years ago.
“He was stuck in an elevator with five other men and he said there was no way I was going to die here. I’m not going to die like this. He managed to crawl out of that elevator. Crawling on his hands and knees. Fire everywhere, ”Chapa said.
Ingram spent the rest of his life fighting for his health. Chapa says he has had around 400 surgeries during his 94 years. He has given back to the community time and time again through events with FISH. A service dog was even given to a veteran and named Jerry for his contribution to veterans affairs.
“I wish I had had another chance to say a prayer with him,” Chapa said. “Today he has chosen to finally return home.”
Ingram returned from the war and attended the University of Kansas. After surviving the Hilton hotel fire, he was so grateful for his life. In honor of the firefighters who saved him, he founded a fire and rescue equipment company that he would run for decades.
Have you heard of a cat with nine lives? He was a Marine with 400 lives between his battles in the South Pacific during World War II, the Hilton Fire. What can I say ? He has had more lives than any cat has had the privilege of having, ”said Pustka.
Ingram also had three daughters and a number of great and great-grandchildren.
He was also a poet.
“Who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Who knows what misfortune or other horrible things.
Who knows what heartache or pain.
Who knows what sleet, snow or rain.
Who knows what is good, bad or better.
Only God knows!! With this knowledge, I can rest.
Jerry Ingram, 12/04/67
“And we know that today Jerry is resting,” Chapa said. “When they talk about the greatest generation, this man embodied the greatest generation. A man who loved his country, God, his faith, his family, his friends. This man would have done anything for anyone.
Ingram’s family are currently working on funeral arrangements for him. His plans were to be buried at Leavenworth National Cemetery where he participated in a number of memorials for other soldiers.
FOX4 will bring you more details when we have them.
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