04 June 2008

Medal of Honor awarded for Iraq

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
President Bush awarded the military’s highest honor posthumously on Monday to a 19-year-old soldier who was killed in Iraq after falling on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers.

At a White House ceremony, the president presented the award to Romayne and Thomas McGinnis, the parents of the soldier, Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis of the Army.

Private McGinnis, of Knox, Pa., was killed in a Baghdad neighborhood on Dec. 4, 2006, when a grenade was thrown into the gunner’s hatch of the Humvee in which he was riding. Mr. Bush noted that Private McGinnis had enough time to jump out and save himself but instead dropped into the hatch and covered the grenade with his own body, absorbing the fragments. He was killed instantly. All four of his fellow soldiers were saved.

ZUI also this article from the Army News Service:
Spc. Ross A. McGinnis, the second Soldier to earn the Medal of Honor in Iraq, was inducted into the Hall of Heroes during a Pentagon ceremony Tuesday.

His family, friends and fellow Soldiers were on hand to witness the event. His parents, Tom and Romayne McGinnis, received a plaque and Medal of Honor flag to honor their son’s sacrifice.

McGinnis was a 19-year-old, M-2 50-caliber machine gunner with 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, supporting operations in Adamiyah, an area of northeast Baghdad, when he saved the lives of four fellow Soldiers.


“Knowing full well the grenade would kill him, Ross gave his life so his brothers could live. There’s no greater act of personal courage, loyalty or selfless service,” said Gen. Richard Cody, vice chief of staff of the Army. “As a result of his quick reflexes and heroic measures, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas, Staff Sgt. Ian Newland, Sgt. Lyle Buehler and Spc. Sean Lawson survived certain death inside that vehicle. “


McGinnis’s father Tom looked into the audience at the four men his son saved as he said, “It was said that Ross gave these four men a gift, and that’s what it was. They can’t be expected to live the rest of their lives living up to something, or paying back something.

“It can’t be carried as a debt. A debt is something you can repay. A gift is something for you to enjoy. So live your lives, enjoy your lives, because it was a gift. Ross is the reason that we’re here, and the reason that Ross is not here is because his Army buddies were more important than life itself,” he added.

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Private First Class, US Army; 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment

Born: 14 June 1987, Meadville, Pennsylvania
Died: 4 December 2006, Baghdad, Iraq

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 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.

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