1. Opinion

Tampa Bay salutes Medal of Honor recipients | Editorial

About 50 recipients visit the region this week to share their stories and reaffirm their permanent connections.
Medal of Honor recipient Robert Ingram [Navy Medical History; Photo by Nick Del Calzo]
Published Oct. 21

They were soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines whose first thoughts when lives were at stake were their comrades and sacred duty. Since 1862, the nation has awarded its highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, to 3,507 recipients who demonstrated “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.” It is a truly noble society of a brave few whose character and example continue to shape America for the better. Tampa Bay residents will be able to see and meet some of these living legends firsthand this week as Medal of Honor recipients gather here to share their stories and reaffirm their permanent connections.

The bravery and selflessness that these service members showed is almost impossible to conceive. Take U.S. Navy Corpsman Robert Ingram of Clearwater. On March 28, 1966, while Ingram accompanied a platoon in Quang Ngai province, a Viet Cong stronghold in south central Vietnam, rifle fire from about 100 North Vietnamese regulars erupted from a village tree line. “In mere moments, the platoon ranks were decimated,” his citation reads. Yet “oblivious to the danger,” Ingram “crawled across the bullet splattered terrain” again and again, treating downed Marines despite being shot four times himself, “disregarding the probability of his demise" and showing an “indomitable fighting spirit” and dedication to duty that “saved many lives that day.”

Their tours of duty may have ended, but their contributions haven’t. The convention in Tampa Bay this week hosted by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society includes meet-and-greets with the public and tours of local landmarks. But more significantly, it includes two days of visits to 20 area schools where the Medal of Honor recipients will speak to the importance of responsible citizenship. The society’s Character Development Program has already trained more than 850 teachers in the three-county area in the value of sacrifice, courage and selfless service. Leaving a strong impression on the youngest generation is an enduring legacy for the entire Tampa Bay region.

Ingram is one of six living Florida residents to have been awarded the honor, and one of four in Florida who will attend the convention this week. Nearly 50 of the 70 living Medal of Honor recipients are expected to attend, which organizers said would be the highest turnout for any such gathering since the 1970′s. That speaks to the acknowledgement by these veterans that their collective presence has important meaning to American life. It also reflects the strong support for these honorees - and for military families more broadly - that’s part of the fabric of the Tampa Bay area.

Those interested in the convention’s itinerary can check the society’s web site. It is a privilege having these veterans here, and all Americans honor their valor and sacrifice and the wonderful example they have set.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.


  1.  LISA BENSON  |  Lisa Benson -- Washington Post Writers Group
  2. Pasco County is spending $21.9 million to preserve 845 acres in central Pasco though its environmental lands program. Pasco County
    The plot may be too narrow in places, writes a Sierra Club conservationist.
  3. In this Oct. 22, 2018, photo, people gather around the Ben & Jerry's "Yes on 4" truck as they learn about Amendment 4 and eat free ice cream at Charles Hadley Park in Miami. WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    An errant comma may affect the interpretation of Amendment 4, writes a law professor.
  4. Jacob "Jake" Weinert, 28, was killed on Nov. 12 when a pickup truck struck him from him behind while he was bicycling to work on U.S. 301 near Sligh Avenue in Tampa. Courtesy Izabel Sgie
    Here’s what readers had to say in Friday’s letters to the editor.
  5. Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The searches are a solemn responsibility for public and private land owners.
  6. The sun sets in the Everglades just east of Naples as seen from the Tamiami Trail. J. PAT CARTER  |  Associated Press
    The environmental challenges of preserving a place that meant so much and drew so many of us here should serve as a rallying cry for all Floridians.
  7. Should we stop changing our clocks twice a year? CHARLES KRUPA  |  AP
    The Republican senator, along with Sen. Rick Scott, introduced the Sunshine Protection Act earlier this year.
  8. U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland listens to the closing statement of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Trump’s ambassador provided clarity in the impeachment inquiry Wednesday.
  9. Kamalah Fletcher wears a medical mask over her face saying "No Coverage = Death" during a 2015 demonstration in Miami calling for Florida lawmakers to agree to Medicaid expansion. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    Here’s what readers had to say in Thursday’s letters to the editor.
  10. Leonard Pitts undefined
    Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. rewrites a fairy tale for our times.