Monday, June 02, 2008

Freedom is Alive Because of the Sacrifice of Men like Ross McGinnis

"May the deep respect of our whole nation be a comfort to the family of this fallen soldier" -President Bush

President George W. Bush leads the applause in honor of Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis, U.S. Army, after presenting the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously to his parents, Tom and Romayne McGinnis, of Knox, Pennsylvania, during ceremonies Monday, June 2, 2008. White House photo by Chris Greenberg

President Bush Presents Medal of Honor to Private First Class Ross Andrew McGinnis
The White House
June 2, 2008

THE PRESIDENT:A week ago on Memorial Day, the flag of the United States flew in half-staff in tribute to those who fell in service to our country. Today we pay special homage to one of those heroes: Private First Class Ross Andrew McGinnis of the U.S. Army. Private McGinnis died in a combat zone in Iraq on December the 4th, 2006 -- and for his heroism that day, he now receives the Medal of Honor.
Most of all, those who knew Ross McGinnis recall him as a dependable friend and a really good guy. If Ross was your buddy and you needed help or you got in trouble, he'd stick with you and be the one you could count on. One of his friends told a reporter that Ross was the type "who would do anything for anybody."

That element of his character was to make all the difference when Ross McGinnis became a soldier in the Army. One afternoon 18 months ago, Private McGinnis was part of a humvee patrol in a neighborhood of Baghdad. From his position in the gun turret, he noticed a grenade thrown directly at the vehicle. In an instant, the grenade dropped through the gunner's hatch. He shouted a warning to the four men inside. Confined in that tiny space, the soldiers had no chance of escaping the explosion. Private McGinnis could have easily jumped from the humvee and saved himself. Instead he dropped inside, put himself against the grenade, and absorbed the blast with his own body.

By that split-second decision, Private McGinnis lost his own life, and he saved his comrades. One of them was Platoon Sergeant Cedric Thomas, who said this: "He had time to jump out of the truck. He chose not to. He's a hero.
When Ross McGinnis was in kindergarten, the teacher asked him to draw a picture of what he wanted to be when he grew up. He drew a soldier. Today our nation recognizing -- recognizes him as a soldier, and more than that -- because he did far more than his duty. In the words of one of our commanding generals, "Four men are alive because this soldier embodied our Army values and gave his life."
Ross's mother said that On his 17th birthday -- the first day he was eligible -- Ross McGinnis stepped into the recruiting station and joined the Army through the Delayed Enlistment Program. He was 19 years old when he died.

Thomas and Romayne McGinnis hold the Medal of Honor while standing in front of four soldiers, (L-R) U.S. Army SSG Ian Newland, U.S. Army Sgt. Lyle Buehler, U.S. Army SFC Cedric Thomas and U.S. Army SPC Sean Lawson, who were saved by their sons actions, after U.S. President George W. Bush posthumously presented their son U.S. Army Spc. Ross Andrew McGinnis with the medal during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House, June 2, 2008 in Washington DC. Spc. McGinnis, 19 from Knox, Pennsylvania was killed Dec. 4, 2006 when an insurgent threw a grenade inside his truck and he jumoed on it to save four fellow soldiers to save other troops while on a combat patrol in Baghdad. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Thank you Ross McGinnis. You make us proud to be Americans!

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