President Bush presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of fallen Army hero Spc. Ross A. McGinnis’ during a White House ceremony today.
Then-Pfc. McGinnis died at age 19 in northeastern Baghdad on Dec. 4, 2006, while protecting his comrades from an enemy grenade that was thrown into his Humvee.
McGinnis, who’d been riding topside in the vehicle’s gunner’s-hatch opening, dropped down and used his body to absorb the effects of the exploding grenade, thus saving four fellow soldiers.
Presenting the Medal of Honor to McGinnis’ parents was “a high privilege,” Bush said, noting McGinnis was a selfless hero who could easily have jumped off the vehicle and saved himself.
Following is an excerpt from the Medal of Honor citation describing Specialist McGinnis’ heroic acts:
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.
McGinnis’ surviving comrades, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas, Staff Sgt. Ian Newland, Sgt. Lyle Buehler, and Spc. Sean Lawson, as well as some prior Medal of Honor recipients, also attended the ceremony.