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MoH Monday: Specialist Ross McGinnis

Jessica Evans Avatar
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Richard Gilleland Jr., from Stafford, Va., photographs the headstone of Spc. Ross McGinnis, recipient of the Medal of Honor, in Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery for work on his website, www.preserveandhonor.com.

In 2006, Spc. Ross Andrew McGinnis, a U.S. Army member, was on patrol in eastern Baghdad during the Iraq War. It was there he earned the prestigious Medal of Honor, which he was awarded posthumously.


Ross Andrew McGinnis was born on June 14, 1987, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Clarion County, just north of Pittsburgh. He always knew that he wanted to join the military. He even expressed this desire to his kindergarten teacher at age 5. Throughout his youth, he participated in team sports and joined the Boy Scouts of America to practice teamwork. Then he joined the Army’s Delayed Entry Program before graduating high school. McGinnis completed BCT at Fort Benning, Georgia. Following his basic training, he joined the 1st Battalion, C Company, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division in Germany. In August 2006, he deployed to Iraq, where he took part in the action that earned him the Medal of Honor.

U.S. Army video by Spc. Ellison Schuman

Medal of Honor Action

On the night of December 4, 2006, Spc. McGinnis and his unit patrolled the dangerous neighborhood of Adhamiyah in eastern Baghdad. The neighborhood suffered from constant suicide bombings and conflicts between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. Earlier that day, the American troops and their allies engaged in combat. After, McGinnis and his team worked to clear the streets of enemy combatants. While riding in a Humvee, an insurgent threw a grenade into their vehicle, putting their lives in immediate danger.

Despite the chaos and confusion, Spc. McGinnis quickly spotted the grenade and recognized the severity of the situation. He immediately shouted for his comrades to toss the grenade out or brace themselves for the explosion. Unfortunately, none of them could see where the device had landed. Without hesitation, McGinnis made the ultimate sacrifice and threw himself onto the grenade to save the others. He absorbed most of the blast and died instantly, but his heroic action protected his four fellow service members from certain death.

As a result of Spc. McGinnis’ selfless act, the military posthumously promoted him to specialist and awarded him the Medal of Honor. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. McGinnis’ bravery and sacrifice in the face of extreme danger serve as a testament to his dedication to the military and the values it represents, and his legacy continues to inspire others to serve their country with honor and courage.

Tom and Romayne McGinnis, parents of the late Spc. Ross McGinnis, stand before a mannequin replica of their son after he was presented as a Medal of Honor recipient during a dedication ceremony held at the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division headquarters.

Medal Ceremony

On June 2, 2008, President George W. Bush presented McGinnis’ parents with his Medal of Honor in a special ceremony held at the White House. The military posthumously awarded McGinnis the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart, in addition to the Medal of Honor. This recognition was for his selfless bravery in sacrificing his own life to protect his fellow service members from the grenade explosion.The presentation of these prestigious military honors was a recognition of McGinnis’ extraordinary service and sacrifice to his country and a testament to the lasting impact of his heroic actions.