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Ross Andrew McGinnis
PFC Ross McGinnis OSUT Infantry School Photo.jpgCmoh army.jpg

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 subsequentlykilled 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, 90 miles north of Pittsburgh, after his family moved there when he was three. When he was inkindergarten, 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.[1] He played basketball and soccer through the YMCA, and Little League baseball.[1] He attended Clarion County public schools and graduated from Keystone Junior/Senior High School in 2005.[2] He has two sisters, Becky and Katie.[3]

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 BenningGeorgia, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in Ledward Barracks, in SchweinfurtGermany.[4]
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 told the other four men about it, so they could prepare for the blast. Instead of jumping out of the gunner’s 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.[5]
He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and his grave can be found in section 60, site 8544.[6] 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 DunhamNavy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta.[7] McGinnis was the fourth recipient of the Medal of Honor in the course of theIraq War.[8]
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 PresidentGeorge W. Bush.[9][10] 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 PeakeSecretary of the Army Pete GerenSecretary 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.[3]

Medal of Honor citation

moh_army.gif (14215 bytes)
The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor

*McGinnis, Ross A.

 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.[3]

Other honors

PBS Special Report chronicled the life of McGinnis as told by his parents, friends and the people of his hometown of Knox, Clarion County, Pennsylvania.[