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Soldier Spotlight: Ross Andrew McGinnis, Fallen Hero
Ross Andrew McGinnis, son of Thomas E. and Romayne S. McGinnis, was born on June 14th, 1987, at Meadville, PA. When Ross was three, he and his family moved to Knox, PA. Ross was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Knox. He enjoyed music (both Rap and Country), BMX biking, and fast cars. He had many friends, each of who considered themselves to be his best friend.
Ross graduated from Keystone High School in 2005. He sang in the high school choir and was an active member of the Boy Scouts until he was about 14 years old. In his senior year, he attended Clarion County Career Center in the automotive classes. He realized that he enjoyed this field tremendously and anticipated continuing his automotive technical training while in the Army after his deployment.
Joining the Army
Ross joined the Army on his 17th birthday in June 2005 in the Delayed Enlistment Program at Fort Benning, GA, and then was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany. He was deployed to Kuwait for 2 weeks of training in August of 2006 and then to Iraq, assigned to the Blue Spaders Combat Team. From his deployment in August of 2006 until his death on December 4th, 2006, he participated in over 200 missions in and around Eastern Baghdad.
Bravery and Exemplary Conduct
For his bravery and exemplary conduct during a heated battle with insurgents on November 5th, 2006, his commanding officer, Captain Mike Baka, received approval for his promotion to Specialist on the morning that he died. This was to be effective on January 1st, 2007.
An Unbelievable Act of Courage
On December 4th, 2006, Ross was manning his gunner’s turret in a convoy of 6 Humvees traveling down a narrow street in Eastern Baghdad when an insurgent tossed a fragmentation grenade onto his vehicle. He tried to deflect it, but it got past him and entered the battle-locked vehicle which had four more men inside. He yelled “Grenade!” when it landed, but the men inside the vehicle asked where it was. He responded, “It’s in the truck!” and moved to exit as he was trained to do; however, he realized that the men inside were trapped and unprotected from the coming blast. As a result, he dropped into the hatch and quickly pinned the grenade between his back and the radio mount, absorbing all the lethal fragments. He died instantly. Only one of the four men were hospitalized as a result of the blast; he suffered damage to his arm and leg requiring extensive surgery. Ross was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia.
Fellow Soldiers Reflect
Ross’s fellow soldiers remember him as a comedian; he even had the ability to made drill sergeants laugh. Ross could lift the mood of any situation with his humor. His fellow soldiers all agreed that he was a true friend to those who knew him.
President Obama Honors Ross
On November 11th, 2009, President Barack Obama left a presidential coin at the gravesite of Medal of Honor recipient, Specialist Ross McGinnis, who is one of two Medal of Honor recipients memorialized at Arlington Cemetery from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
SPC Ross A. McGinnis’s Army Decorations:
Medal of Honor (presented to Tom and Romayne McGinnis at a June 2, 2008, White House Ceremony)
Silver Star (awarded for valor exhibited during the events of Dec. 4, 2006)
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Combat Infantryman Badge