World War II veteran reflects on military service
GLENFIELD, New York (WWNY) - It’s one thing to read about history, but it’s another to live it. On this Veterans Day, we speak with a World War II veteran who came home to his family in Lewis County.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. That same day, Robert Ingersoll celebrated his 19th birthday. Shortly after that, everything changed.
“I drafted,” he said.
America officially entered World War II and Ingersoll was sent to Hawaii to serve as an engine mechanic at Pearl Harbor.
“I was doing it faster and better than everyone else; didn’t have any recalls on it,” he said.
Ingersoll quickly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a sergeant after receiving a commendation from a two-star general. That said, he did have a bit of a reputation for speaking his mind, even against officers who outranked him.
“Well, if I was right, I was right. If I was wrong, I kept quiet,” he said.
Among fellow soldiers, he also had a reputation as a bit of a ladies’ man. But he’d disagree.
“There was one soldier beside me that said, ‘You handsome bastard.’ I told him I’m not handsome and I’m not a bastard,” he said.
After his three years in the service, Ingersoll says he realized it was time to see his family again in the north country.
“They offered me to be staff sergeant if I’d re-up. I told them I’m ready to go home,” he said.
Ingersoll never returned to military service, but over the years he has become involved in groups like the American Legion and VFW.
His coffee habit has also earned him a nickname at Lewis County diners: One Cup Bob.
For younger generations thinking about serving their country, Bob offers a piece of advice.
“It’s good education. It’s something they can use. They learn things. They can also get a chance to see other parts of the world,” he said.
In 2022, with tensions high among world superpowers, he says the military is more important than ever.
“If you have a military, a good strong military, you won’t have to use it. If you’re stronger than your enemy, they’re not going to hurt ya. If you become weaker, you’re subject to attack,” he said.
With less than a month to go before he turns 100, Ingersoll hopes to celebrate in a big way. On December 10, he’ll be hosting an open party at the Glenfield Fire Department for anyone who wants to wish him well.
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