Korean War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Einar Ingman dies at 85

Einar Ingman, who received the Medal of Honor in 1951 for heroism in the Korean War.


By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: September 10, 2015

Shot in the face during a battle in the Korean War, Einar Ingman kept on fighting. When he ran out of bullets, he used his bayonet. Near death from his wounds, he managed to take out two machine-gun nests before losing consciousness on the battlefield.

Months later, Ingman left a hospital bed to attend a White House ceremony in 1951, when he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his "indomitable courage."

Mr. Ingman was 85, and one of fewer than 10 surviving Medal of Honor recipients from the Korean War, when he died Sept. 9 at a hospital in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. He had been in declining health since suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in 2003, said a daughter, Mary Ingman.

He joined the Army when he was 19, hoping to work with heavy machinery. After war broke out in Korea in 1950, Ingman took up a rifle as a member of the 7th Infantry Division.

He was a 21-year-old corporal who already had been wounded once in combat before the encounter that led to the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for wartime valor.

On Feb. 26, 1951, he was part of a platoon leading an advance on a ridge held by Chinese forces near the Korean town of Maltari. His unit faced heavy machine-gun fire, which wounded two squad leaders and several other soldiers.

Ingman took charge and radioed for tank and artillery support. He combined the fragmented forces of two squads and organized an assault, firing his rifle as he charged up the hill.

After throwing a grenade into one machine-gun nest, he used his rifle to mow down the remaining enemy soldiers. He then turned toward a second machine-gun emplacement about 15 yards away.

A grenade exploded near his head, taking off part of his left ear and knocking him to the ground. As he rose to his feet, he was shot in the face, just below his nose. The bullet exited his skull behind his left ear.

Ingman had no recollection of what happened afterward; the description of the action came from his fellow soldiers.

Despite being blinded in his left eye and losing many of his upper teeth, Ingman continued his assault as blood poured from his wounds. He fired his rifle until his ammunition was depleted, then used his bayonet at close quarters, killing the entire Chinese machine-gun crew.

"As a result of the singular action by Cpl. Ingman," his Medal of Honor citation read, "the defense of the enemy was broken, his squad secured its objective, and more than 100 hostile troops abandoned their weapons and fled in disorganized retreat."

Ingman collapsed at the scene. Rescued by helicopter, he regained consciousness seven days later at a hospital in Tokyo.

Over the next two years, he underwent 23 operations. In addition to losing his left eye, Ingman sustained a serious brain injury and would remain deaf in his left ear. His Medal of Honor citation praised him for his "indomitable courage, extraordinary heroism, and superb leadership."

Einar Harold Ingman Jr. was born Oct. 6, 1929, in Milwaukee and grew up on a farm near Tomahawk.

After he received the Medal of Honor, thousands of people turned out for a parade to welcome him back to his rural home town, where he was presented with a new car and a boat.

Discharged from the Army as a sergeant in 1952, Ingman spent 32 years working for a paper company in Tomahawk, first as a security guard and later as a mail clerk.

He attended many ceremonies for veterans and Medal of Honor recipients, including 11 presidential inaugurations, and visited Korea several times over the years. In 2014, two of his children traveled to Seoul to receive South Korea's highest military decoration on his behalf.

His wife of 58 years, the former Mardelle Goodfellow, died in 2011. Survivors include seven children; a sister; two brothers; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Ingman was one of four soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony July 5, 1951. As President Harry S. Truman placed the sky-blue ribbon of the Medal of Honor around the neck of each soldier, he quietly said, "I'd rather have this medal than be president."