JONESVILLE - A Lee County man was injured Tuesday in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded while he and three other soldiers were on patrol in Sadr City.
PFC James Ingle, 22, was deployed to Iraq in October with the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division based in Fort Carson, Colo., said his father, Kenny Ingle.
The understandably shaken father said Wednesday morning the Army had provided few details about his son's condition, the extent of his injuries or exactly what happened. The dad said military officials called his home early Tuesday while he was at work and notified his daughter, who in turn called his wife, who notified him at his job at Jonesville Middle School sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.
Ingle said all he knows at this time is that the four soldiers were on patrol sometime Tuesday when the bomb exploded. Since Iraq is eight hours ahead of local time, he estimates the incident took place between noon and 2 p.m. Iraqi time Tuesday.
"The only thing we've found out so far is that James wasn't fatal and from the blast he had blood coming out his ears. We had hoped to hear something last night, but we didn't," he said Wednesday morning.
Ingle said his son had been in the Army about 18 months and serves as a mortar man in the infantry.
James Ingle is a 2001 graduate of Lee High School who joined the Army because he had always wanted to, said his dad.
"His mom's dad was in the military, and he wanted to follow in his footsteps. He wanted to make a career of it," he said.
James was such a fan of the military that his main hobby was re-enacting with the local Civil War group, the 37th Virginia Infantry.
"That was his biggest thing," said his dad, who expressed his thanks to the group - particularly Larry and Pam Warner and Jerry Parsons, for their positive influence on their son. " He always spoke very highly of them, and we greatly appreciate them."
Kenny Ingle said even though his son knew he could be deployed to Iraq if he joined the military, that was a risk he was willing to take.
"He had no reservations about going. The only thing he said about it was that if it was meant for him to go that he'd go and do the best he could do and try to make a difference over there," said Ingle. "The military was always something he wanted to do, and when we explained that he may have to go, he just said if it was meant for him to go that he'd do the best he could and go from there."
Ingle said after his son was injured, military officials just gave them brief information on what had happened and advised that their son would be in touch later and that the time would depend upon the severity of his injuries.
"Their concern at that time was to get him stabilized and let him contact us later. I don't know how the military does things when things like that happen. Things have changed a lot since I was in," said Ingle, himself an Army veteran.
"We're proud of him, and we want him to know that we love him and miss him. We hope all the boys over there will one day get home soon," he said.
James' mother, the former Tammy Bledsoe, said her son was scheduled for a mid-February trip home and had planned on getting married while he was in. James Ingle is engaged to Meghan Bjornstad, 20, of Woodland Park, Colo. Unfortunately, he was also scheduled to return to Iraq after the wedding.
"I was hoping he'd be home and be an old married man," his mother said wistfully. "I can't wait to get him out of that place."
She still clings to hope that her son's injuries are not significant and that he can soon be home to marry.
"We need a lot of prayers right now," said his dad.
It was late Wednesday before the family got another update on his condition. Tammy Ingle said she has yet to talk to her son, but military officials told her late in the evening that he had suffered lacerations and a concussion and was under observation for the next 72 hours, at which time he will be re-evaluated.
"I've not got to talk to him, and until I hear his voice I'm going to be a mess," she said.