Monday, June 2, 2008

Medal of Honor Awarded to Specialist Ross McGinnis

The family of Specialist Ross McGinnis received the Congressional Medal of Honor in ceremonies at the White House today. For details about this heroic young man, read the following Army Times article from May 27:

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Army Times
May 27, 2008
By Staff Writer Michelle Tan

Spc. Ross McGinnis, who was killed Dec. 4, 2006, in Iraq when he smothered a grenade with his body, will receive the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Friday.

McGinnis, 19, will be honored during a ceremony June 2 at the White House. The Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, will be presented to McGinnis’ family. McGinnis also will be honored at the Pentagon on June 3, and a new marker for his grave at Arlington National Cemetery will be unveiled June 4.

The award for McGinnis, first reported by Army Times, will be the second given to a soldier for actions while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who was killed April 4, 2003, fighting off insurgents in a fierce firefight south of Baghdad, was awarded the Medal of Honor two years after he died.

McGinnis, then a private first class assigned to 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, is credited with saving the lives of four fellow soldiers.

McGinnis was manning the turret in the last Humvee of a six-vehicle patrol in Adhamiyah in northeast Baghdad on Dec. 4, 2006, when an insurgent threw a grenade from the roof of a nearby building.

“Grenade!” yelled McGinnis, who was manning the vehicle's M2 .50-caliber machine gun.

McGinnis, facing backward because he was in the rear vehicle, tried to deflect the grenade, but it fell into the Humvee and lodged between the radios.

When he stood up to get ready to jump out of the vehicle, as he had been trained to do, McGinnis realized the other four soldiers in the Humvee did not know where the grenade had landed and did not have enough time to escape.

McGinnis, a native of Knox, Pa., threw his back against the radio mount, where the grenade was lodged, and smothered the explosive with his body.

McGinnis was posthumously promoted to specialist, and he was awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, while the Medal of Honor nomination was pending.

The grenade exploded, hitting McGinnis on his sides and lower back, under his vest. He was killed instantly. The other four men survived.

In addition to Smith and McGinnis, two other service members have been awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq: Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham and Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael Monsoor. Only one Medal of Honor has been awarded for actions in Afghanistan, to Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL.

Each of those awards was presented posthumously.

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SFC Chuck Grist

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