EINAR H. INGMAN - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

EINAR H. INGMAN

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Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, Einar Ingman was always fascinated with heavy machines. When a military recruiter told him he could learn a trade involving this equipment in the Army, Ingman signed up, but after the Korean War broke out, his unit, the 17th Infantry, was rushed into battle, and he found himself carrying a rifle instead of driving a truck.

On February 26, 1951, Corporal Ingman was in the assault platoon of his company, patrolling the mountainous terrain near the town of Malta-ri and clearing the way for the rest of the U.S. forces to advance. Suddenly, the patrol ran into a Chinese force dug in at the top of a ridge above them. When the squad leaders and several men were hit by enemy fire, Ingman assumed command. He first radioed for artillery and tank support, then raced up the hill, his men following.

Ingman charged an enemy machine-gun nest, threw a grenade into it, and shot the gunners. As he approached a second machine-gun emplacement, an enemy grenade exploded near his head, knocking him down and tearing off a piece of his left ear. As he struggled to his feet, a Chinese soldier jumped up from a trench and shot him in the face. The bullet hit next to his nose, tearing out his upper teeth and exiting behind his ear.

He immediately lost all memory—even of getting shot. Acting by reflex, he got up and moved forward toward the machine gun, emptying his clip and attacking the gunners with his bayonet. Then he passed out.

As a result of Ingman's action, the enemy defenses were broken, his unit secured its objective, and one hundred enemy soldiers abandoned their weapons and fled in disorganized retreat.

Seven days later, Ingman regained consciousness in a Tokyo hospital. He had lost the hearing in his left ear, was blind in his left eye, and had no recall, even of his own name. After he underwent emergency brain surgery, his memory slowly began coming back.

He was sent to a hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he underwent twenty-three more operations in the next two years. Although he recovered physically, his memory would come and go.

In the summer of 1951, he was flown from the hospital to Washington, where he was met by a stretcher and an ambulance, and where he got a renewed sense of how serious his injuries were when one of the waiting medics was surprised to see that he could actually walk. He was fitted for a new dress uniform, and President Harry Truman presented the Medal of Honor to him on July 5, 1951.

After the ceremony, Ingman flew back home to Tomahawk, Wisconsin, where the townspeople staged a party for him and gave him a new car, boat, and trailer to go along with it. In the boat was a huge northern muskie that had just been caught. They cooked the fish and everyone in the town joined Ingman in a grand feast.