Ross A. McGinnis
Ross Andrew McGinnis
|Born||June 14, 1987|
Meadville, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||December 4, 2006 (aged 19)|
Adhamiyah, Baghdad, Iraq
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||2004–2006|
|Unit||1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Bronze Star Medal
Ross Andrew McGinnis (June 14, 1987 – December 4, 2006) was a United States Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the United States' highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the Iraq War.
While serving as the gunner in a HMMWV, his convoy was attacked and a hand grenade was thrown into his vehicle. McGinnis was killed in action when he deliberately threw himself on the grenade, saving the lives of at least four other soldiers in the vehicle. He was the fourth service member to receive the Medal of Honor during the Iraq War, which was presented to his family following his death.
Early life and education
McGinnis was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania, on June 14, 1987, to Romayne and Tom McGinnis and grew up in Knox, 90 miles north 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 graduated from Keystone Junior/Senior High School in 2005. He had two sisters, Becky and Katie.
McGinnis had wanted to be a soldier since kindergarten and joined the United States 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, 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 HMMWV 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 shouted a warning to the other four men in the vehicle, so they could prepare for the blast. When one of the men responded they could not see where the device had landed, instead of jumping out of the gunner's hatch, McGinnis threw his back over the grenade, absorbing the bulk of the blast. He was killed instantly, but the other occupants suffered only minor injuries.
McGinnis is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Since the beginning of the Iraq War, he is one of five 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, Marine Corporal Kyle Carpenter, 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, 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.
Awards and decorations
Medal of Honor citation
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 December 4, 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.
- "Ross Andrew McGinnis". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
- "Fallen Hero: The Ross McGinnis Story". Video honoring Ross and his sacrifice and bravery. WQED TV. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
- Bush, George W. (June 2, 2008). "President Bush Presents Medal of Honor to Private First Class Ross Andrew McGinnis". East Room: Office of the Press Secretary, The White House.
- "Medal of Honor – SPC Ross A. McGinnis – Profile". United States Army. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
- "Medal of Honor – SPC Ross A. McGinnis – Battlescape". United States Army. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Zoroya, Gregg (September 27, 2007). "In Iraq, coping after a hero dies saving you". USA Today. Retrieved November 13, 2007.
- Shane, Leo III (May 24, 2008). "19-year-old who died protecting others will be awarded Medal of Honor". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
- Tan, Michelle (March 26, 2007). "Medal of Honor nominee McGinnis laid to rest". Army Times. Retrieved November 13, 2007.
- "Soldier killed in Iraq to get Medal of Honor". NBC News. Associated Press. May 23, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- "Ross McGinnis, Medal of Honor recipient". Arlington National Cemetery Biography. Arlington National Cemetery profile. December 9, 2006.
- "President Bush Presents Medal of Honor to Private First Class Ross Andrew McGinnis". White House Press Release. White House. June 2, 2008.
- "Reflections on PFC Ross McGinnis on YouTube.com". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
- "Medal of Honor - PFC Ross McGinnis: Staff Sergeant Ian Newland Interview on YouTube.com". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
- Sports Illustrated editorial on McGinnis
- United States Army profile