By Carrie McLeroyJune 2, 2008
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 2, 2008) -- Spc. Ross McGinnis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony Monday morning.
His parents, Tom and Romayne McGinnis, shared the small stage in the East Room with the president to receive the nation's highest military honor on their son's behalf. He became the second Soldier serving in Iraq to receive the medal.
McGinnis was serving as an M-2 50-caliber machine gunner with 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment supporting combat operations against insurgents in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad. On Dec. 4, 2006, 1st Plt. was gearing up to patrol the streets of the area and deliver a 250-kilowatt generator to provide increased electricity to its citizens.
The youngest member of his platoon at 19, McGinnis manned the 50-caliber machine gun on the last Humvee in the six-vehicle patrol. He sat on the gunner's strap facing the rear to provide security for the patrol. An insurgent on a nearby rooftop lobbed a fragmentation grenade into the vehicle. Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas (platoon sergeant and truck commander); Staff Sgt. Ian Newland (squad leader); Sgt. Lyle Buehler (driver) and Spc. Sean Lawson (medic) were combat-locked inside the vehicle.
McGinnis yelled, "grenade," to allow his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Instead of leaping out the gunner's hatch to safety as he was trained to do, McGinnis threw his back against the radio mount where the grenade had landed, covering the grenade and absorbing most of the blast.
"By that split-second decision, McGinnis lost his own life, and he saved his comrades," Bush said.
Following the ceremony, McGinnis's parents expressed their pride in their son, and sadness of their loss. The Soldiers who called him brother and friend voiced their appreciation for his sacrifice.
"Ross did what he did for his buddies, and actually he's done that all his life," Romayne said. "It didn't surprise us when we found out all the details of what had happened. That was Ross."
When asked how their son should be remembered, the parents spoke about how he was a normal kid, who when called upon, did what he thought was best for his buddies.
"The only thing you've really got to remember about my son is that he did the right thing at the right time," Tom said. "Because his life was very short, it wasn't an exciting story until it got right to the end. He just made the right decision when it was required."
McGinnis will be inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes Tuesday afternoon, and his Medal of Honor headstone will be unveiled at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday.
For more on Ross McGinnis's story, visit www.army.mil/medalofhonor/mcginnis