Memorial Day: Honoring those who served
by By William Wright Lifestyles Editor and BETTIE MARLOWE Banner Staff Writer
May 26, 2013 | 1357 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Memorial Day
Paul Ingham as ‘Young Marine’ Okinawa, Japan.
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Paul Ingham is a second-generation military man. His father was a career Navy man and Paul was born in Agana, Guam, on Sept. 24, 1971. The family left the island when he was around 8 years old and lived in California, Connecticut, Turkey and Virginia. In fact, he graduated from the George C. Marshall American High School in Ankara, Turkey, in 1989.

Since he was born in Guam, he is considered an Asian Pacific Islander — usually traditionally referred to as Guamanian or Chamorru.

Ingham attended college in Alabama, receiving a degree in arts, before starting his military education. He enlisted in the Marines in January 1991, and did his basic training at Parris Island, S.C.

He transitioned to the U.S. Army in 1995 and attended initial entry training as a diesel mechanic — the beginning of his Army career.

After attending Army leadership schools, he graduated from Army Warrant Officer Candidate School and completed platform instruction as a graduate of the Total Army Instructor Training Course. Other training received included the Small Group Instruction Training Course and Lead Facilitator Training Course and he attended numerous safety and environmental schools. He was certified in Safety and Health Management from Georgia Tech.

Ingham was active in the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines (North Carolina); 31st Marine Support Group (Okinawa, Japan); First Calvary Division (Texas); First Armored Division (Germany); 143rd Ordnance Battalion (Maryland), Third Infantry Division (Georgia); and Warrant Officer Career College (Alabama). He retired after 20 years in service in September 2011 with the rank of chief warrant officer 3.

His military awards tell the story of his service to his country: Bronze Star (two each), Meritorious Service Medal (two each), Army Commendation Medal (six each), Army Achievement Medal (four each) and Combat Action Badge.

Ingham’s first deployment was Bosnia followed by three 12-month tours to Iraq. He said, “It was exciting — the first deployment — but after six months into it, I found it hard to stay focused.” He said he was subjected to temperatures above 130 degrees Fahrenheit and knew the prospect of getting shot at by bullets and missiles and hit by improvised explosive devices — “I am thankful for my legs every day.” He said it was worse being away from his wife and children and not being able to tell where he was and that he was doing OK. “I think they suffered the most,” he added.

He recalled the worse day he had. “I received word on my first tour to Iraq in the beginning of the war that my unit would remain in country for an entire year while other units in my division were heading home to be with their loved ones.” He said he felt they were left behind and since they hadn’t seen their families since the deployment, struggled with informing them. “It was hard to keep focused and keep all my soldiers alive.”

But Ingham also remembers the best day in his military service. “That’s easy,” he said, “I have two best days.” It was the births of his daughters, Karissa in Texas, and Kiah in Germany. “I was not going to miss those very special days.”

So what was the first thing Ingham did when he came out of the Army? He said he looked at Pandora, his wife of 18 years, and said to himself, “This woman supported me throughout my military career — how thankful I am that she is still at my side. Then I took the family on a vacation, cleared my mind and started searching for a job.”

Ingham said his military service, though rewarding, came with a price. “I will never get back all the times lost with my family and how much they suffered in my absence.” So he made the decision to study with Jehovah's Witnesses and dedicate himself to God. “The mark of true Christianity and how my family benefited from putting God first is what really drew me in,” he added.

He said war changes a person and he would not want anyone to experience what he went through. “I learned that people will do anything to stay alive and make it home to their families,” Ingham said. “I enlisted to protect this country, but I also had a commitment to be there for my wife and girls.”

Ingham said he guessed the only peace he felt in the Army was when he was not in harm’s way. And after deployments, he said, “My time was focused on rebuilding that bond with my wife and children.” But, he continued, “I didn’t find true peace until I started learning about God.”

He commented that it’s funny — “I used to kick down doors for a living, but still struggle with knocking on doors declaring the good news of God’s Kingdom.” He said it is hard because it means more — “My relationship with God was more important than my relationship with my commanders.”