OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One of the remaining survivors of Iwo Jima passed away on Tuesday, Pearl Harbor Day. FOX4 has highlighted Marine veteran, Jerry Ingram, a number of times over the years. He was 94.
People who knew Ingram will tell you he always lived boldly. When he was 15, he lied about his age and joined the Marines after seeing the devastation at Pearl Harbor. Ingram spent his life fighting for his country and giving back to the community.
Friends say Ingram is without question an American hero. Paul Chapa with Friends in Service of Heroes, or F.I.S.H., says he feels like Jerry knew it was his time to go.
“Pearl Harbor was attacked at 7:55 a.m. Jerry passed at 7:50 a.m. Dates meant a lot to Jerry and it’s a date that we’ll 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 is Marine through and through.
“There’s two important days in a Marine’s life. One is when he’s born and the other is when he realizes why he was, and Jerry knew why he was,” Pustka said.
When Ingram went to Iwo Jima he left with a team of men, but came back 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 standing. But that was all behind him. All he was about was giving back,” Pustka said.
Ingram not only survived Iwo Jima. He also survived the Hilton Hotel Fire in Las Vegas 40 years ago.
“He was trapped in an elevator with five other men and he said there’s no way I’m going to die here. I’m not going to die like this. He managed to crawl out of that elevator. Crawl on his hands and knees. Fire everywhere,” Chapa said.
Ingram spent the rest of his life fighting for his health. Chapa says he went through around 400 surgeries in his 94 years. He gave back to the community time and time again through events with F.I.S.H. A service dog was even donated to a veteran and was named Jerry for his contribution to veteran affairs.
“I wish I would have had one more chance to say a prayer with him,” Chapa said. “He chose today to finally go home.”
Ingram came home from war and went to 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 started a fire and rescue equipment company he would run for decades.
You heard of a cat with nine lives? He was a Marine with 400 lives between his battles in the South Pacific in World War II, the fire at the Hilton. What can I say? He’s had more lives than any cat was privileged to have,” Pustka said.
Ingram also had three daughters along with a number of grand and great grandchildren.
He was also a poet.
“Who knows what tomorrow brings.Jerry Ingram, 12/4/67
Who knows what woe or other ghastly things.
Who knows what grief or pain.
Who knows what sleet, snow, or rain.
Who knows what’s good, bad or best.
God knows!! With that knowledge I can rest.”
“And we know that today Jerry is resting,” Chapa said. “When they talk about the greatest generation this man epitomized the greatest generation. A man that loved his country, God, his faith, his family, friends. This man would have done anything for anyone.”
Ingram’s family is currently working through 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.