Friday, August 21, 2009

Army Sgt. Matthew L. Ingram

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Matthew L. Ingram, 25, of Pearl, Miss.

Sgt. Ingram was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Aug. 21, 2009 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle and his unit came under small fire from enemy forces.

Slain Miss. soldier known as leader
By Jerry Mitchell
(Jackson, Miss.) Clarion Ledger

Army Sgt. Matthew Ingram, killed in an apparent ambush in Afghanistan, is being remembered as a leader who loved his country, a father who loved his family and a small-town Mississippian who wanted to see the world.

The 25-year-old Newton County native already had a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered in his second tour of duty in Iraq before being sent to Afghanistan in May.

His mother, Patricia, said Army officials called with the news of his death. “It’s the worst news that anybody had ever told me,” she said, “but this is what he wanted to do.”

No date has been set for funeral services in Newton County, where he grew up. He is survived by his wife, Holly, and their 10-month-old daughter, Chloe, who lived with him near Fort Carson, Colo, where he was stationed.

Ingram was killed Friday in Afghanistan, where fighting is so fierce that Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the situation as “serious and deteriorating.”

With 44 killed, July was the deadliest month for American forces in Afghanistan since the conflict began.

Ingram died from wounds he suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. According to the Department of Defense, his unit was under small arms fire from enemy forces when the blast occurred.

Ingram was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson.

His mother said the initial report military officials gave was enemy forces had ambushed her son and other soldiers who had been called out at 3 a.m.

“Matthew was the first one hit,” she said.

She said Army officials said they are going to continue to investigate what happened but that it wasn’t the first time soldiers had been ambushed there.

“They told me I should be very proud, that he went down as a hero,” she said.

Even as a child, Matthew was the one giving the orders, she said. “He’s always been a leader, not a follower.”

He would tell his brother, five years older, what to do, she said.

And he was bright. When he was in kindergarten, his classroom had a plastic replica of a human body. He was able to remove the organs and return them to the right locations, naming each one, she said. “The teacher told me Matthew might be a doctor one day.”

When he got older, he found he could miss a few days of school and still keep up, she said. “He was very smart.”

Eventually, those misses became more permanent, and he dropped out during his senior year at Newton County High School, where he was a member of the Future Farmers of America.

Principal Ken Stringer said Matthew was never loud or a troublemaker. “The ones who made the racket I knew,” he said.

Although he dropped out of school, Ingram was filled with ambitions and dreams beyond the discount store where he worked, his mother said. “He didn’t want to be mediocre.”

He saw the Army as a way to pay for his college, she said.

He saw other advantages to military service, too, she said. “He wanted to see the world. He said, ‘When I get older, I want to go to a big town and live in a big town.’“

He may have been influenced, too, by his mother’s fiance, Harry Hastings, who retired as a full colonel in the Army medical service corps.

“He talked about how happy he was when he joined,” Hastings said.

Matthew joined the Army the summer of 2003 and did basic training at Fort Benning. His mother and Hastings visited him there on parents’ day, and at Matthew’s request, Hastings wore his uniform.

Ingram was reassigned to South Korea, where he spent 10 months before his entire brigade was deployed to Iraq, where he spent a year.

While visiting back home, Matthew enjoyed the hobbies of paintball and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle, his mother said.

Stationed later in Colorado, he met his future wife, Holly, in Colorado Springs. They married in 2006.

He became a sergeant before returning for a second tour in Iraq. He didn’t get back home until early 2007.

Hastings remembers he and Matthew’s mother visiting the young couple after he returned, and Matthew pushing a medal out onto the table.

It was a Purple Heart, he said. “That was his most prized possession.”

Matthew never discussed what happened beyond an explosion inside a Humvee that injured his foot and ankle, he said. “Most likely it was a roadside bomb or a grenade.”

In May, Matthew had to leave for Afghanistan, and this time he didn’t want to go “because of his little baby,” his mother said. “He said, ‘You know, Mama, I might not come back this time.’ “

He worried about not seeing his daughter again.

Though grieved by his death, his mother said she’s comforted by a Native American saying that people “never die as long as you mention their name. Their spirit lives on forever.”

Services set for Ingram
The Associated Press

HICKORY, Miss. — Services are scheduled Aug. 29 for a 25-year-old soldier from Mississippi who was killed Aug. 21 during combat in Afghanistan.

Services for Army Sgt. Matthew Ingram are 2 p.m. Aug. 29 at Antioch Christian Church, three miles south of Hickory on Mississippi Highway 503.

The Department of Defense says Ingram died from wounds suffered Aug. 20 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. The blast occurred while his unit was under small-arms fire from enemy forces.

Ingram was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

Ingram is survived by his wife, Holly, and their 10-month-old baby.

Army Sgt. Matthew L. Ingram was killed in action on 8/21/09.

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