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A headshot of Gage Ingram in U.S. Navy fatigues in front of the U.S. flag

Byron Nelson alumnus Gage Ingram Sacrifices Life defending others as Navy SEAL

In a night mission off the coast of Somalia on January 11, U.S. Navy SEALs boarded a ship smuggling Iranian missile components bound for Houthi militants in Yemen. During that mission, a SEAL team member fell into the water because of the ongoing storm causing severe swells, to which a second SEAL quickly responded by jumping in for an attempted rescue, following protocol.

Sadly, on January 21, U.S. Central Command announced that following an exhaustive 10-day search, the two missing U.S. Navy SEALs were not located and were declared deceased. One of SEALs declared deceased was Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram, a Byron Nelson High School alumnus who also attended Lakeview Elementary School and Medlin Middle School.

SO2 Ingram and his SEAL team acted in the protection of international citizens who have sustained ongoing attacks from Houthi militants in the Arabian Sea. The actions of the SEALs, according to U.S. CENTCOM, were made to defend international law and promote peace in the region.

“These SEALs represented the very best of our country, pledging their lives to protect their fellow Americans,” President Joe Biden said in a statement about SO2 Ingram and Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Chris Chambers, his fellow fallen SEAL team member. “Our hearts go out to the family members, loved ones, friends, and shipmates who are grieving for these two brave Americans. Our entire country stands with you. We will never fail to honor their service, their legacy, and their sacrifice.”

For those who knew SO2 Ingram best, the fact that he enlisted in the Navy and earned a place among the nation’s most prestigious military units came as no surprise. SO2 Ingram chased his dream of enlisting in the military with the full tenacity they expected of him. Those who watched him grow up also cited one key reason they were not surprised he entered the military: his attitude of helping and caring for others.

Gage Ingram and friends in the BNHS Splash Zone

That instinct of supporting others appeared at a young age, according to Terri McNutt, his kindergarten teacher at Lakeview Elementary School. She said that every day, she could count on a hug from him, even after he had moved on to the next grade levels, alongside a smile she came to view as his hallmark.

“I got back in touch with Gage’s mom on Facebook, and it didn’t surprise me at all to see he entered into the military,” Mrs. McNutt said. “When I saw the photos she would post of him, I saw the same huge smile he had in kindergarten. At that age, it’s normal for students to get in arguments, but that never happened with him. He always had a tender heart and was easy for others to get along with because of his kindness.”

Growing up, SO2 Ingram appeared smaller in stature, though he maintained a solid work ethic and sense of pride in any task he completed. He initially played basketball and football in high school before serving as manager of the varsity basketball team for three years, and he enjoyed supporting school programs. As part of the Class of 2014, he was among those in the Bobcat student section who began the Splash Zone tradition that continues today.

Scott Curran, current Northwest ISD assistant athletic director who previously served as the longtime coach of the Bobcat basketball team, said he will always remember SO2 Ingram as someone who put others first.

“Gage was the epitome of dependability,” he said. “We never had to ask him to do anything because he was always a step ahead. Gage always thought about others before himself, and he took great pride in taking care of everyone in our program. He was simply just a great young man.”

It didn't surprise me at all to see he entered into the military ... [Gage] always had a tender heart and was easy for others to get along with because of his kindness.

Terri McNutt, SO2 Ingram's Kindergarten Teacher

Michael Elder, a former Byron Nelson High School science teacher who taught SO2 Ingram as a junior and senior, shared Mr. Curran's sentiments and said the Bobcat graduate also displayed a unique sense of humor.

During his senior year Earth and space science class, Mr. Elder assigned a free choice project. As with many impending graduates, SO2 Ingram and his friends displayed what most teachers and students refer to as the serious illness of “senioritis.” Students were asked to present on a topic they were interested in, to which SO2 Ingram chose procrastination.

“That meant he did nothing on his project until about five minutes before he was to present it,” Mr. Elder explained. “True to Gage style, he threw it together and presented it to the class. I remember all of us in the class laughing with him while he presented. I just always remember him having a great sense of humor. He was always so respectful, and he was a great student and great friend to those around him.”

In addition to supporting school programs, SO2 Ingram stayed active as a member of the school’s Young Life chapter for Christian youth to support one another through their shared religious beliefs. While he remained involved in several programs and activities, friends and classmates said his personality – kind, sincere, hard-working and humble – defined him more than any group association.

After graduating from Byron Nelson High School, he worked hard to build his physical abilities while attending college at Texas Tech. While in high school, he didn’t yet know what branch of the military he wanted to enlist in, though that changed at Texas Tech. There, he trained rigorously to meet his flourishing goal of becoming a SEAL, going on to enlist in the Navy in 2019 and graduate from SEAL qualification training in 2021.

A photo of Gage Ingram and friends as children when they played soccer

While he could share few details of his endeavors as a SEAL, friends and family knew SO2 Ingram lived his calling in life by defending and caring for others. He visited friends and family at holiday celebrations in recent years, displaying the same friendly and humble demeanor he always possessed. Doren Thali, a longtime friend of SO2 Ingram's family and former Lakeview Elementary School teacher, said his strong moral attributes will always best exemplify him as an individual.

“When you think of Gage going into the Navy SEALs, you think of the courage, which he absolutely had, but what set him apart was his kindness – that’s what I will always remember about him,” she said. “I never had Gage as his classroom teacher, but I had his sister, Jaci, and always saw him around school. Despite it being 20 years later and not having him as a student, that’s how much of an impact his kindness made on me. Even as an elementary-aged student, his maturity and kindness were always apparent. Following him through the years and seeing that boy become a man who remained a sweet person, that’s what I’ll always be most proud of.”

The family of Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Gage Ingram would like to thank the Navy SEAL Foundation and SEAL Family Foundation for their support. Donations made to either organization benefit current, veteran and fallen Navy SEALs and their families. Information about a memorial service for SO2 Ingram will be announced in the coming days.

Memories from Friends

A photo of Gage Ingram shaking the hand of Dr. Karen Rue

Sarah Borcik Conn: “What I’ll remember most about Gage is his laugh. He loved to laugh, and he had the best laugh. He was goofy and made the best of any situation. I rarely, if ever, saw him in a bad mood, and even if he was, he still would find a reason to smile. He was the kindest person and an amazing friend who cared so much for the people he loved. I’ll remember all the major life moments we experienced together, from growing up down the street in high school to our friendship continuing at Texas Tech. From new relationships to breakups to weddings and everything in between, it was special getting to experience these pivotal moments with him.”

Logan Janca: “I am so thankful for all the laughs, cries, and friendship Gage has given me for over a decade – he is always there for his friends. One time, I went home from Texas Tech for a week, and when I got back my battery had died in my car. Gage came right over and accidentally put the positive and negative on backwards and caught the battery on fire. He thought that was the funniest thing ever, and next morning was right at my house to take me to get a new battery. Gage is so lovable and always positive. Without him and Ryan, there would be no Matt, who now is my fiancé. I will forever love his silly dance moves, his kindness towards others, and our sibling-like bond.”

Ryan Johnson: “The laughter we shared together is what I will remember most about Gage. We were always, always laughing. I’ll always remember all the activities and fun we had. Playing soccer against each other as kids, celebrating birthday parties growing up and doing literally everything together in high school. We continued sharing major life moments after high school, such as training together as he was getting ready for BUD/S [Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training], and I officiated his wedding. Our time together was just a lifetime of joy.”

Bobby Jones: “What I’ll remember most about Gage was traveling to middle school and freshman-year football games. Just sitting on the bus with him, listening to music and talking about different plays for the whole ride is a memory I will always look back on fondly.”

Parker Ransleben: “I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood with Gage, as we lived across the street from each other until middle school. Most of my fondest childhood memories include him. Whether it was watching him dribble circles around kids in soccer, watching ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Walker Texas Ranger,’ or riding our bikes down the street in our underwear, Gage was there. Even though our later school years had us involved in different sports and friend groups, what I appreciated most was how easy it was to be friends with Gage. We’d be able to meet up at family parties or during the holidays and easily pick up where we left off. He genuinely cared about those around him, was a reliable friend to those who knew him, and consistently put other’s needs ahead of his own. He will be missed.”

Tony Swann: “I will always remember Gage’s bright smile, grin and laugh. He had a personality that made every room brighter when he walked in. Gage was determined, driven and selfless. Our time together through high school and as roommates in college was too short, and I will cherish those days forever. He was proud and honored to be a SEAL, and I’m proud and honored to call him a friend and brother.”