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First Name: Ross

Last Name: McGinnis

Birthplace: Meadville, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Andrew

Date of Birth: 14 June 1987

Date of Death: 04 December 2006

Rank: Specialist

Years Served: 2004-2006
Ross Andrew McGinnis

•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


Ross Andrew McGinnis
Specialist, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Iraq War

Ross Andrew McGinnis (14 June 1987 - 4 December 2006) was a Private First Class who served in the U.S. Army during the Iraq War and was posthumously awarded the United States' highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor. He was the fourth soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for heroic actions during the Iraq War. He also received a posthumous promotion to Specialist.

The Early Years

Ross Andrew McGinnis was born in Meadville, PA, on 14 June 1987, to Tom and Romayne McGinnis. Although he was born in Meadville he grew up in Knox, 90 miles north of Pittsburgh, after his family moved there when he was three. When he was in kindergarten, his teacher gave him a paper that at the top said "When I grow up, I want to be __________" and he wrote an "Army Man." When he was growing up, he became involved in the Boy Scouts of America, enjoyed working on cars, and was an athlete playing multiple sports. He played basketball and soccer through the YMCA, and Little League baseball. He attended Clarion County public schools and graduated from Keystone Junior/Senior High School in 2005. He had two sisters, Becky and Katie.

Military Service

McGinnis had wanted to be a soldier since kindergarten and joined the Army through the Delayed Entry Program on his 17th birthday, on 14 June 2004. Following basic training at Fort Benning, GA, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in Ledward Barracks, in Schweinfurt, Germany.

In August 2006, the regiment was deployed to eastern Baghdad and he was serving as a .50 caliber machine-gunner in a Humvee during operations against insurgents in Adhamiyah. On 4 December, while his platoon was on mounted patrol in Adhamiyah, a grenade was thrown into his vehicle. He told the other four men about it, so they could prepare for the blast. Instead of jumping out of the gunner's hatch, he threw his back over the grenade, absorbing the bulk of the blast. He was killed instantly, but the other occupants were able to survive with only minor injuries.

Since the beginning of the Iraq War, he is one of four known U.S. service members who have thrown themselves on a live grenade. The other personnel known to have done this are Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta.

Medal of Honor

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on December 4, 2006. That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled "grenade," allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner's hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion. Private McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis' extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

A ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House on 2 June 2008 in which Ross Andrew McGinnis' Medal of Honor was presented to his family by President George W. Bush.

In addition to his family and the President, many other notable people attended the ceremony, including the Vice President; the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, James Peake; Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren; Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Wynne; and General Jim "Hoss" Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Several members of congress also attended as did members of McGinnis' unit from Iraq, including the other soldiers from the vehicle he sacrificed his life to save.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Silver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon

He was also awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge


A PBS Special Report chronicled the life of McGinnis as told by his parents, friends and the people of his hometown of Knox, Clarion County, PA.

Death and Burial

Ross Andrew McGinnis was killed in action on 4 December 2006. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, and his grave can be found in Section 60, Site 8544.

Honoree ID: 1264   Created by: MHOH




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