Army Spc. Ross A. McGinnis
Medal of Honor Recipient
(KIA in Adhamiyah, Iraq on Dec. 4, 2006)
Medal of Honor
to the Family
Army Spc. Ross A. McGinnis
President George W. Bush
(White House ...
June 2, 2008)
morning. Welcome to the White House.
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
|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
|In a few moments, the military aide will read
the citation, and the Medal will be accepted by Ross's mom and dad,
Romayne and Tom. It's a privilege to have with us as well Becky and
Katie, Ross's sisters.
I also want to thank the other
distinguished guests who have joined us: Mr. Vice
President; Secretary Jim Peake of Veterans Affairs;
Secretary Pete Geren of the Army; Secretary Michael
Wynne of the Air Force; General Jim "Hoss"
Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I
appreciate other members of the administration for
I want to thank members of the
United States Congress who have joined us today:
Steve Buyer, John Peterson, Louie Gohmert. Thank you
all for coming. I appreciate the Chaplain for the
prayer. We welcome friends and family members of
Ross, as well as members of the 1st Battalion, 26th
Infantry, including Charlie Company, that's with us
We're also joined by Private McGinnis's vehicle crew
-- the very men who witnessed his incredible
bravery. We welcome Sergeant First Class Cedric
Thomas, Staff Sergeant Ian Newland, Sergeant Lyle
Buehler, and Specialist Sean Lawson.
A special welcome to the prior recipients of
the Medal of Honor, whose presence here is -- means a lot to the
McGinnis family. Thank you for coming. |
The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military distinction.
It's given for valor beyond anything that duty could require, or
a superior could command. By long tradition, it's presented by
the President. For any President, doing so is a high privilege.
Before he entered our
country's history, Ross McGinnis came of age in the
town of Knox, Pennsylvania. Back home they remember
a slender boy with a big heart and a carefree
spirit. He was a regular guy. He loved playing
basketball. He loved working on cars. He wasn't too
wild about schoolwork. (Laughter.)
He had a lot of
friends and a great sense of humor. In high school
and in the Army, Ross became known for his ability
to do impersonations. A buddy from boot camp said
that Ross was the only man there who could make the
drill sergeant laugh. (Laughter.)
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
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. He
was just an awesome guy." For his actions, Private McGinnis
received the Silver Star, a posthumous promotion in rank, and a
swift nomination for the Medal of Honor. But it wasn't acclaim
or credit that motivated him. Ross's dad has said, "I know
medals never crossed his mind. He was always about friendships
and relationships. He just took that to the ultimate this time."
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."
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, at the White House. White House photo by Chris
The day will come when the mission he served
has been completed and the fighting is over, and freedom and
security have prevailed. America will never forget those who
came forward to bear the battle. America will always honor the
name of this brave soldier who gave all for his country, and was
taken to rest at age 19.
No one outside this man's family can know
the true weight of their loss. But in words spoken long ago, we
are told how to measure the kind of devotion that Ross McGinnis
showed on his last day: "Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Gospel also gives this
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they
shall be comforted." May the deep respect of our
whole nation be a comfort to the family of this
fallen soldier. May God always watch over the country he served, and keep us ever grateful for the
life of Ross Andrew McGinnis.
now I'd like to invite Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis to
please come forward for the presentation, and the
military aide will
citation for the Medal of Honor.