Memphis Veteran Tobbie Ingram Hopes to Inspire the Next Generation of Black Soldiers With His Life Story

Tobbie Ingram poses for a photo as first lieutenant, commanding officer of the 7th infantry division MP company in South Korea. (Courtesy Photo)

Maj. Tobbie Ingram grew up at the close of World War II. He watched reels from the war as a child. In the Boy Scouts, he performed military-like drills. His father and uncle had both served in the Navy during World War II and his brother joined the Air Force right out of high school.

All of those things made him want to become a soldier, so as soon as he graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, he enlisted in the Army.

Now retired with 20 years of military service behind him, Ingram looks back on his years in the Army fondly. He was the first African American chosen for several assignments and trainings, had a chance to travel the world and even wrote a book.

He’s hopeful that he can share that experience with others, letting young people know what’s possible with the military.

“It gave me a lot of confidence and I just felt good about the experience,” Ingram said. “I really want young people to hear about this, what they can do and what can be done and all you need to do is just do it.”

Tobbie Ingram in the military

While in the military, Ingram was the first African American military policeman chosen to attend the 7th army non-commissioned officers academy in Germany, the first African American provost marshal assigned to the Lexington-Blue Grass Army Depot and Blue Grass Chemical Activity in Kentucky, the first African American provost marshal assigned to the Milan Army Ammunition Depot in Milan, Tennessee, the first African American selected to attend the Infantry Officer’s Candidate School from the advance weapon command in Germany and the first African American military policeman assigned to 202 MP Company in Ingrandes, France.

“I just felt like a regular individual,” Ingram said. “I was never faced with any type of discrimination. I was just received as another member of the armed forces.”

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SOURCE: Memphis Commercial Appeal, Katherine Burgess

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