Staff Sergeant Clark Ralph Ingram (1921 – 2011)
9th Army Air Force, WWII – Mediterranean, B24 Radio Operator, Purple Heart, POW
Remembering – Staff Sergeant Clark Ralph Ingram – Obituary by Courier Express
Clark R. Ingram, 89, Bennett’s Valley Highway, Penfield, died Sunday (May 22, 2011)at the home of his son, after a lengthy illness. He was born Sept. 11, 1921, in Caledonia, a son of the late George R. and Hannah Anderson Ingram. He was married to Eleanor Gallagher on July 29, 1945. She survives.
He was a graduate of Weedville High School class of 1939. He lived all his life in Bennett’s Valley. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and served as a radioman and a top turret gunner on a B-24 during World War II. After being shot down in Italy he was held in Germany as a prisoner of war for 23 months. He received the Purple Heart and distinguished unit citation.
He worked as a miner for Gallagher Coal Company, owned and operated trucks, a country store in Caledonia, a beef cattle farm, school buses and was a strip mine owner. He was active in Free Masonry, was a past Master of Driftwood Lodge 532, was a member of the Consistory at the Valley of Coudersport and received his 60 year pin for service. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, dancing and trips to a Casino.
Survivors include three sons: George “Mike” (Pamela) Ingram of Weedville, Gary C. (Nancy) Ingram of Treasure Lake, and Gregory B. Ingram of Penfield; a sister, Edith Mijavic of Warren; 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
INGRAM: Clark R., Bennett’s Valley Highway, Penfield, died May 22, 2011. Friends will be received from 7-9 p.m. tonight and from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Wednesday and from 10-11 a.m. Thursday at the Ralph M. Geer Funeral Home in Penfield. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday at the funeral home with Pastor Timothy Rogers officiating. A Masonic service will be held at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the funeral home. Military honors will be accorded by the Valley Legion Post 978 Burial Detail. Burial will be in Morningside Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to Driftwood Lodge No. 532 F&AM, in care of Secretary, Ivan Baughman, 3295 Bucktail Trail Highway, Driftwood, PA 15832.
MZHS “Hero of Air Power
Like many of his young Valley friends, Clark R. Ingram, born in 1921 in Jay Township, son of George and Hannah Ingram of Caledonia enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in September, 1942, after graduating from the 1939 class of Jay Township High School. Within his first year of service, he trained as a B17 radio operator, then voluntarily assigned as a B24 Liberator radioman/ gunner with the 9th AAF, 98th Bomb Group (aka Pyramiders), 345th Bomber Squadron at North Africa’s Benina Airfield, Benghazi, Libya in July, 1943, and obtained the rank of Staff Sergeant.
In September, 1943, the Ingrams received disheartening news that their son- S/Sgt Clark Ingram- was reported as MIA. Then in October, they received the “good news” that Clark had been found alive in a German POW camp. What an emotional time WW2 must have been for both soldiers and their families.
S/Sgt Ingram had been in 4 campaigns- Air Offensive Europe, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, and Ploesti. This Ploesti raid in August, 1943, was named Black Sunday for being the worst loss of aircraft and men in one mission. Then, on a September 3, 1943, mission to Sulmona, Italy, Clark’s B24 (aka “Chief”) was attacked by German fighters, hit by flak, and several crew members parachuted out. The cries of those that could not get out are still remembered. Only six of the ten crewmen survived. Clark was one of the “lucky” ones landing in a farm field. He was captured by the Italian police, and was soon handed over to the Germans.
S/Sgt Clark Ingram ended up in the infamous German POW Camps- Stalag Luft 6 and 4- in Germany until April, 1945. In February, 1945, the Germans evacuated the POWs in what became known as the “Shoe Leather Express”. This freezing and cruel “Death March” lasted 44 treacherous days for S/Sgt Ingram until he and other POWs were finally liberated on April 16th at 11:15 by Monty’s (British General Montgomery’s) 2nd Army. On the second of May, Clark while in a convalescent hospital in England (he weighed but 100 pounds when liberated) wrote a v-mail letter to his family in Weedville hoping to be home soon. For his heroic service, S/Sgt Clark Ingram received the Air Medal, POW medal, the Purple Heart, a Presidential Citation, and the EAME campaign ribbon with 4 stars. He was credited with downing three enemy planes.
Soon after his return home, Clark married Eleanor Gallagher in July, 1945. They lived with Eleanor’s grandmother until purchasing the Tuttle Store in Benezette. Additionally, Clark worked in his in-laws Gallagher Mines, and operated school buses. Here Clark and Eleanor raised their three sons: Mike, Gary, and Gregory. In 1955, Clark purchased the George Foster Farm in Spring Run, and there built Ingram’s Garage and was engaged in trucking and coal mining. Nearing retirement, Clark and Eleanor moved to Penfield.
The Mt. Zion Historical Society proudly salutes Clark Ingram as a true hero for his valor and service, and honors him as one of our “Heroes of Air Power”.
Lest We Forget…