Ross McGinnis

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Ross Andrew McGinnis (June 14, 1987 - December 4, 2006) is a recipient of the highest military decoration for wartime valor, the Medal of Honor. He was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and at the age of three he and his family moved to Knox, PA, where he grew up. McGinnis attended Clarion County public schools, and was a member of the Boy Scouts, a member of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and a 2005 graduate of Keystone Junior-Senior High School.[1]

McGinnis enlisted in the U.S. Army on his 17th birthday in Pittsburgh through the Delayed Entry Program. On June 8, 2005, he left Pennsylvania for eight weeks of basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, followed by another six weeks of Advanced Infantry Training; he graduated in October 2005. McGinnis was then assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany. He was deployed to Iraq in July 2006, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.[2] According to the official report, on the afternoon of Dec. 4, 2006, Ross McGinnis threw himself on a grenade in Iraq; he died from wounds received upon his heroic actions that saved the lives of four fellow soldiers.[1]

Medal of Honor

On the afternoon of Dec. 4, 2006, McGinnis and his platoon were on a patrol in Adhamiyah to restrict enemy movement and quell sectarian violence. McGinnis was manning the gunner’s hatch on one of the patrol Humvee's. During the course of the patrol, an unidentified insurgent positioned on a rooftop nearby threw a fragmentation grenade into the Humvee. It flew past McGinnis and down through the hatch before lodging near the radio. His platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas of Longview, Texas, recalled what happened next.

Pfc. McGinnis yelled "Grenade! … It's in the truck!" I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down. He had time to jump out of the truck. He chose not to. … He gave his life to save his crew and his platoon sergeant. He's a hero. He's a professional. He was just an awesome guy.[2]

Without hesitation or regard for his own life, McGinnis threw his back over the grenade, pinning it between his body and the Humvee's radio mount. McGinnis absorbed all lethal fragments and the concussive effects of the grenade with his own body. McGinnis, who was a private first class at the time, was posthumously promoted to specialist. His heroic actions and tragic death saved the lives of four other soldier's with him in the Humvee; three of the soldiers with McGinnis who were wounded that day have returned to duty, while the fourth remained in Germany to recover from wounds received.

Army Decorations

President George W. Bush posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Ross McGinnis for saving four comrades in Iraq by jumping on a grenade. The Medal of Honor was presented to his parents, Tom and Romayne McGinnis, on June 2, 2008 at a White House Ceremony.

McGinnis was also awarded the Silver Star, the United States third highest award for valor, awarded for bravery and valor exhibited during the events of Dec. 4, 2006. In addition to the Medal of Honor and Silver Star, he was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Combat Infantryman Badge.[3][4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Medal of Honor. The Story of SPC Ross A. McGinnis, Army.Mil Features.
  2. 2.0 2.1 DoD. Ross Andrew McGinnis, Arlington National Cemetery Website.
  3. Iraq War Heroes, Ross A McGinnis.
  4. Mark St.Clair. Soldier who died smothering enemy grenade to be recommended for Medal of Honor, Stars and Stripes, December 14, 2006.

See also