SPC Ross McGinnis Nominated for Medal of Honor
Army Specialist Ross McGinnis has been posthumously nominated for the Medal of Honor for diving on a grenade to save his squad mates.
Spc. Ross A. McGinnis has been nominated by his commanders for the Medal of Honor, said Maj. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
On Dec. 4, while on duty in Baghdad, Iraq, McGinnis used his body to smother a grenade, saving the lives of four fellow soldiers. McGinnis died from the blast. McGinnis, 19, was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, which is attached to 2nd BCT.
Only one soldier and one Marine have received the Medal of Honor since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there has been debate about why there have been so few recipients of the nation’s highest award for valor.
According to information provided Tuesday by Multi-National Division-Baghdad, McGinnis was manning the gunner’s hatch when an insurgent tossed a grenade from above. The grenade flew past McGinnis and down through the hatch before lodging near the radio. His platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas, was in the vehicle at the time. McGinnis “yelled, ‘Grenade. … It’s in the truck,'” Thomas said. “I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down.” McGinnis, who was from Knox, Pa, could have escaped the blast, Thomas said. “He had time to jump out of the truck,” he said. “He chose not to. He gave his life to save his crew and his platoon sergeant. He’s a hero.”
Three of the soldiers in the vehicle with McGinnis have returned to duty after suffering minor injuries. The fourth is recovering in Germany.
McGinnis, the youngest soldier in his company, was approved Monday for a Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor, according to a press release from MND-B. In it, he was referred to as a private first class. McGinnis was promoted to E-4 the morning he died.
The other recipients were Army SFC Paul Smith, awarded the Medal August 2, 2005 for killing as many as 50 enemy soldiers and saving nearly 100 Americans, and Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, who was awarded the medal November 13th for jumping on a grenade and saving the lives of two comrades. Both were awarded posthumously.