Our "Medal of Honor" series explores the stories behind the courageous Pennsylvania veterans who have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for their exemplary service in the United States military. In this entry, we recognize the achievements of Ross A. McGinnis, whose family received his Medal of Honor on June 2, 2008.
Private First Class McGinnis served in the U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade, 3d Infantry Division. He was born 14 June 1987 in Meadville, PA, and grew up in Knox, PA. The Medal of Honor was presented to his family on June 2, 2008.
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 4 December 2006. That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While PFC McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into his 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, PFC McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, PFC McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion. PFC McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. PFC 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.