Specialist Ross McGinnis was just an average young man when he decided to sign up for the United States Army’s delayed entry program before he even graduated from high school. He was deployed to Iraq in August of 2006. Three months later, he committed an act that was anything but average. He sacrificed his own life to save his fellow soldiers. He was only nineteen years old. This deed was the ultimate act of kindness, bravery and selflessness and for this he was awarded the highest honor that can be given to a member of the United States Armed Forces, the Medal of Honor.
Ross McGinnis was born on June 14, 1987 in Meadville, Pennsylvania to Tom and Romayne
McGinnis. The day of his birth was the 206th birthday of the United States Army. When Ross was three years old, his family moved to Knox, Pennsylvania, where he was raised with his two sisters, Becky and Katie. Ross joined the army’s delayed entry program when he was seventeen and went into basic training right out of high school. He was deployed with his unit a little over a year later.
On December 4, 2006, PFC Ross McGinnis was manning the M2 .50 caliber machine gun on a Humvee while patrolling in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq when an insurgent threw a grenade at the Humvee from a nearby rooftop. PFC McGinnis saw the grenade and tried to deflect it, but was unsuccessful; it landed inside the vehicle. He shouted “grenade” to warn the other soldiers in the Humvee of the danger, but Ross was the only man who was in a position to get out of the Humvee quickly. Instead, he dropped down from his position and trapped the grenade between his body and the radio mount in the Humvee.
When the grenade went off, it tore apart the young man’s side and back and injured the four other men that were in the vehicle. All four of the other soldiers survived, but PFC Ross McGinnis was killed instantly. The convoy that they were traveling with managed to fight off the insurgents in the area and they all made it back to the FOB. Ross McGinnis was promoted to Specialist later that day; his CO had planned to promote him before he had died. He was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery on March 23, 2006.
On June 2, 2008, Spc. Ross McGinnis was awarded the Medal of Honor “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life 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.” His parents received the medal for him during a ceremony at the White House.
The Story of Spc. Ross A. McGinnis, retrieved 8/30/09, army.mil/medalofhonor/mcginnis/profile/index.html
Tan, Michelle, Army PFC. Ross A. McGinnis, retrieved 8/30/09, militarycity.com/valor/2411963.html