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Memorial to MoH recipient unveiled

Dec. 10, 2012 - 07:39AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 10, 2012 - 07:39AM  |  
This memorial to Spc. Ross McGinnis was dedicated at Fort Knox.
This memorial to Spc. Ross McGinnis was dedicated at Fort Knox. (Army)
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Spc. Ross A. McGinnis, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Iraq, was honored Dec. 7 by soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

During the ceremony, attended by McGinnis' parents, the unit unveiled a memorial display honoring the 19-year-old who smothered a grenade with his body to save the lives of four fellow soldiers.

The display features a plaque and statue honoring McGinnis, and the brigade's company operations facilities were renamed in his honor.

This nearly 50-acre complex houses the company-level headquarters and facilities for the 3,500 soldiers of 3rd BCT.

McGinnis, who was killed Dec. 4, 2006, belonged to C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, which is now part of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Knox, Ky.

"I do think it's remarkable that the U.S. Army puts so much emphasis on their heroes," Tom McGinnis, Ross' father, wrote in an email to Army Times. "On every military base we've visited, the streets, the buildings and the monuments are a tapestry of heroes woven together from various points in time throughout our history."

His son's sacrifice, Tom McGinnis wrote, "made it possible for four other men to go on living and raising their children, but in addition to that, he has added his name to the long list of heroes who inspire current and future soldiers to bravely face the horrors of combat."

On Dec. 4, 2006, McGinnis and soldiers from his platoon were on a patrol through the streets of Adhamiyah, a neighborhood in northeast Baghdad. McGinnis was manning the .50-cal in the last Humvee in the patrol.

When the convoy turned down a narrow street lined on both sides with buildings, an insurgent standing on a rooftop threw a grenade that landed in McGinnis' truck.

"Grenade!" McGinnis yelled, according to accounts from the other men in the truck. "It's in the truck!"

The four soldiers inside the Humvee braced for the explosion, but McGinnis didn't jump out of the turret as he had been trained to do.

He realized his friends didn't know where the grenade had landed and didn't have time to escape. McGinnis dropped down into the Humvee and smothered the grenade lodged in the vehicle's radio mount.

The explosion killed him instantly.

The other soldiers survived.

On June 2, 2008, McGinnis' parents received their son's Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, from then-President George W. Bush.

Two days later, Tom and Romayne McGinnis stood hand in hand at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., as they unveiled the new headstone over their son's grave, which now bore the distinctive emblem of the Medal of Honor, the letters of their son's name gleaming in gold.

McGinnis was the fifth service member — and second soldier — to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Tom McGinnis said he is grateful for the honors bestowed upon his son, but he wishes that others who served are honored, as well.

"They deserve it, too," he said.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the facilities renamed in McGinnis' honor.

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