Thursday, June 24, 2010
Private First Class ROSS A. McGINNIS 1987 - 2006
Ross Andrew McGinnis (June 14, 1987 – December 4, 2006) was a soldier who served in the United States Army during the Iraq War and was posthumously awarded the United States' highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor. While serving as the gunner in a HMMWV, his convoy was attacked and a hand grenade was thrown into his vehicle. McGinnis was subsequently killed in action when he threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of at least four other soldiers in the vehicle. He was the fourth soldier to receive the Medal of Honor during the Iraq War, which was presented to his family following his death.
McGinnis was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania on June 14, 1987 to Romayne and Tom McGinnis. Although he was born in Meadville he grew up in Knox, east of Pittsburgh, after his family moved there when he was three. When he was in kindergarten, his teacher gave him a paper that at the top said "When I grow up, I want to be __________" and he wrote an "Army Man". When he was growing up he became involved in the Boy Scouts of America, enjoyed working on cars, and was an athlete playing multiple sports. He played basketball and soccer through the YMCA, and Little League baseball. He attended Clarion County public schools and although he was a marginal student, he graduated from Keystone Junior/Senior High School in 2005. He has two sisters, Becky and Katie.
McGinnis had wanted to be a soldier since kindergarten and joined the Army through the Delayed Entry Program on his 17th birthday, on June 14, 2004. Following basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in Ledward Barracks, in Schweinfurt, Germany.
In August 2006, aged 19, the regiment was deployed to eastern Baghdad and he was serving as a .50 caliber machine-gunner in a Humvee during operations against insurgents in Adhamiyah. On December 4, while his platoon was on mounted patrol in Adhamiyah, a grenade was thrown into his vehicle. He told the other four men about it, so they could prepare for the blast. Instead of jumping out of the gunning hatch, he threw his back over the grenade, absorbing the bulk of the blast. He was killed instantly, but the other occupants were able to survive with only minor injuries.
He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and his grave can be found in section 60, site 8544. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, he is one of four known United States servicemembers who have thrown themselves on a live grenade. The other personnel known to have done this are Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta. McGinnis was the fourth recipient of the Medal of Honor in the course of the Iraq War.
A ceremony was held in the east room of the White House on June 2, 2008 in which the medal was presented to his family by President George W. Bush. In addition to his family and the President a many other notable people attended the ceremony, including the Vice President, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne, General Jim "Hoss" Cartwright, and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Several members of congress also attended as did members of McGinnis' unit from Iraq, including the other soldiers from the vehicle he sacrificed his life to save.
In addition to the Medal of Honor he also received a posthumous promotion to specialist as well as the following medals and ribbons; Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and Army Overseas Service Ribbon.
Medal Of Honor Citation
Rank and Organization: Private First Class, United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 December 2006.
That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled "grenade," allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner's hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion.
Private McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis' extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.