The Story of SPC Ross A. McGinnis

1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (attached to 2nd BCT, 2ID)

Parents: Tom and Romayne McGinnis

Siblings: Becky Gorman and Katie McGinnis

Hometownv: Knox, Pennsylvania

Enlisted: Delayed Entry Program June 14, 2004 at the Pittsburgh MEPS. Completed initial entry training at Fort Benning, Georgia

Assignments: 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment (Schweinfurt, Germany)

Deployments: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Spc. McGinnis’ dedication to duty and love for his fellow Soldiers were embodied in a statement issued by his parents shortly after his death:

“Ross did not become our hero by dying to save his fellow Soldiers from a grenade. He was a hero to us long before he died, because he was willing to risk his life to protect the ideals of freedom and justice that America represents. He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor… That is not why he gave his life. The lives of four men who were his Army brothers outweighed the value of his one life. It was just a matter of simple kindergarten arithmetic. Four means more than one. It didn’t matter to Ross that he could have escaped the situation without a scratch. Nobody would have questioned such a reflex reaction. What mattered to him were the four men placed in his care on a moment’s notice. One moment he was responsible for defending the rear of a convoy from enemy fire; the next moment he held the lives of four of his friends in his hands. The choice for Ross was simple, but simple does not mean easy. His straightforward answer to a simple but difficult choice should stand as a shining example for the rest of us. We all face simple choices, but how often do we choose to make a sacrifice to get the right answer? The right choice sometimes requires honor.”

Ross Andrew McGinnis was born June 14, 1987 in Meadville, PA. His family moved to Knox, northeast of Pittsburgh, when he was three. There he attended Clarion County public schools, and was a member of the Boy Scouts as a boy. Growing up he played basketball and soccer through the YMCA, and Little League baseball. Ross was a member of the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Knox, and a 2005 graduate of Keystone Junior-Senior High School.

Ross’s interests included video games and mountain biking. He was also a car enthusiast, and took classes at the Clarion County Career Center in automotive technology. He also worked part-time at McDonald’s after school.

His mother, Romayne, said Ross wanted to be a Soldier early in life. When asked to draw a picture of what he wanted to be when he grew up, Ross McGinnis, the kindergartner, drew a picture of a Soldier.

On his 17th birthday, June 14, 2004, Ross went to the Army recruiting station and joined through the delayed entry program.

Specialist Ross A. McGinnis

Spc. Ross Andrew McGinnis will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously during a White House ceremony June 2, 2008 (tentative).

After initial entry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, McGinnis was assigned to 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment in Schweinfurt, Germany. According to fellow Soldiers, he loved Soldiering and took his job seriously, but he also loved to make people laugh. One fellow Soldier commented that every time McGinnis left a room, he left the Soldiers in it laughing.

The unit deployed to Eastern Baghdad in August 2006, where sectarian violence was rampant. Ross was serving as an M2 .50 caliber machine gunner in 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment is support of operations against insurgents in Adhamiyah, Iraq.

According to the official report, on the afternoon of Dec. 4, 2006, McGinnis’ platoon was on mounted patrol in Adhamiyah to restrict enemy movement and quell sectarian violence. During the course of the patrol, an unidentified insurgent positioned on a rooftop nearby threw a fragmentation grenade into the Humvee. 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. Spc. McGinnis’s heroic actions and tragic death are detailed in the battlescape section of this website and in his Medal of Honor Citation.

Army Decorations: Medal of Honor (to be presented to Tom and Romayne McGinnis at a June 2, 2008 White House Ceremony), Silver Star (awarded for valor exhibited during the events of Dec. 4, 2006, pending processing and approval of Medal of Honor), 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.