News: Duke Brigade honors Medal of Honor recipient
Story by Sgt. Kandi Huggins
FORT KNOX, Ky. - “Throughout history every generation looks at the next generation with great trepidation. They wonder if they can trust the next generation to do the hard right over the easy wrong,” said Lt. Col. William Jacobs, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, commander. “We often say things like, ‘I don’t understand these new kids’ or ‘they just don’t make men like they use to’, but Ross McGinnis is a reminder that we are wrong.”
Because of his heroism and selflessness, which saved four men from certain serious injury or death, his fellow soldiers, family and friends, honored McGinnis with a dedication ceremony at the 3rd IBCT Headquarters, Dec. 7.
The ceremony honored McGinnis with the Medal of Honor, unveiled a memorial mannequin of McGinnis and rededicated the company operations facilities in his tribute.
Spc. McGinnis grew up in a small town and dreamed of growing up to be, as a young McGinnis put it, an Army man. He joined the Army on his 17th birthday and attended Basic and Advanced Individual Training shortly after graduating high school. In December 2006, 19-year-old McGinnis was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The first unit from the battalion on the ground, Charlie Company, arrived in Iraq Aug. 4, 2006. Following a week of training in Kuwait, the company went to Combat Outpost Apache in Adamiyah, a northeast section of Baghdad.
“There were a lot of kidnappings, killings and a lot of enemy activity in our sector,” said Maj. Michael Baka, company commander at that time. “Insurgent attacks, sniper fire, grenade contact and IEDs were all part of daily life in Adamiyah.”
By December, the company had lost two of its Soldiers and was feeling the strenuous affects from battling enemy insurgents.
While soldiers of Charlie Company were patrolling the streets of Adamiyah, northeast Baghdad, Dec. 4, 2006, an insurgent on a nearby rooftop threw a grenade at McGinnis’s vehicle. McGinnis, an infantryman, unsuccessfully attempted to deflect the grenade and it entered the vehicle behind him.
“Grenade,” McGinnis announced before standing up and preparing to jump out of the vehicle.
“That is what the machine gunner is supposed to do,” said Baka. “He’s supposed to announce the grenade, give a fair amount of time for people in the vehicle to react, and then he’s supposed to save himself. No one would have blamed him if he did that, because that is what he was trained to do.”
But the 19-year-old soldier did not heed his training.
Instead, McGinnis, seeing the grenade sitting on the radio mount behind him and realizing the others would not have time to escape, gave his response, pushed the gunner strap out from under him and laid his back on top of the grenade.
It detonated, killing him instantly.
Six years later, in remembrance of McGinnis’ sacrifice for the lives of his fellow soldiers, his parents, soldiers of 3rd IBCT and civilians gathered in the Hall of Heroes, in the brigade headquarters, observing the mannequin dressed as a soldier with his protective gear on, holding an M4 rifle. Behind the mannequin, hangs a picture denoting McGinnis as a Medal of Honor recipient.
“Spc. McGinnis is the epitome of a warrior. He is the ultimate example of a selfless and courageous team mate,” said Jacobs. “Today we dedicate the brigade’s company operations facility in his honor. The Spc. Ross McGinnis Company Operations Facility will stand as a daily reminder of our duty as Warriors to our country but more importantly to each other. He is an example of who we all strive to be and if necessary we hope to have the courage to be.”