Paid for by the Michigan Republican Party with Regulated Funds.
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520 Seymour Street, Lansing, MI 48933
One SOldier’S StOry
A Film by Keith Famie
I have been asked – how did the film “One Sol-dier’s Story” and the foundation, Mikie’s Minutes, cometo be?
The question is asked with a great deal of respectfor SGT Ingram, but it still is asked. Please allow me toexplain.
I was accompanying MSG Jeff Rector, a Vietnamveteran and the state of Michigan’s Casualty AssistanceCoordinator for the US Army Reserve. MSG Rector han-dles military honor funerals.
I was offered the opportunity to meet MSG Rec-tor and his team at Selfridge Air Force Base to film a cer-emony where they would be receiving the body of SGTMichael Ingram, a casualty of the war in Afghanistan.Thisis where my journey and relationship with Michael’s fam-ily begins. It was a cold, late April Sunday morning.
The family and friends stood in the rain alongwith Jeff Rector’s team and sixty or so Vietnam veteransfrom Patriot Guard, who had escorted SGT Ingram’s fam-ily over 67 miles, from Monroe to Selfridge, on their bikes in that cold rain. SGT Ingram’s body was taken off the plane, with solemn and respectful ceremony, and thePatriot Guard again rode escort with the Michigan StatePolice leading the way.
This act of unconditional careand support solidifiedin my mind why wewere honoring theVietnam veteran bymaking the film Our Vietnam Generation.On Friday of thatsame week, we wereinvited by BrianMerkle of MerkleFuneral Home to filmSGT Ingram’s funer-al.
This was asad day for the city of Monroe as one of their favorite sonswas laid to rest – and,once again, MSG Jeff Rector and his teamwould perform thehonors. Also attending were over 100 Vietnam veterans insupport of the Ingram family.
Several months later, Michael Sr. and Julie, SGTMichael Ingram’s step mom, had come to my office toview some of the film footage. These would be the firstimages they had seen from those very difficult days.
It was an emotional time, and it gave me an op- portunity to learn more about Mikie – which is what they preferred to call their son.
A profound story they shared involved how SGTIngram had been injured and required surgery. This quali-fied him to go home, yet he flat out said, “No, I’m notleaving my boys.” Ingram stayed and worked through the pain – insisting that he do his job and continue to go outon patrols. This incredible character, sense of responsibil-ity, respect for his fellow soldiers, bravery, and heroism is precisely what cost him his life.
His parents sat in my office and we talked for hours. They brought pictures and shared Mikie stories. Icame to realize how precious this time was – to be invitedinto their son’s personal life and their personal world of grief. During our conversation, they mentioned to me howsad it is that our soldiers must use their own money tomake a call home.
“Really?” I said. “You mean these guys who arein harm’s way every moment of their deployment have to pay for their own phone calls home? This makes nosense.” Then they shared their vision of creating a founda-tion called “Mikie’s Minutes” that would provide freecalling cards for soldiers to make that call home. Imaginewhat that simple phone call, something we all take for granted, means to a soldier in the field, many thousands of miles from home.