WASHINGTON — The White House announced Friday that a Pennsylvania soldier who jumped on top of a grenade in Iraq and saved the lives of his comrades will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor.
The nation’s highest military honor will be given to 19-year-old Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis of Knox, Pa., on June 2.
McGinnis “distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism,” said White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto.
He was in the gunner’s hatch of a Humvee on Dec. 4, 2006, when a grenade sailed past him and into the truck where four other soldiers sat. He shouted a warning to the others, then jumped on the grenade that was lodged near the vehicle’s radio. It blew up and killed him.
Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman, said McGinnis easily could have jumped out of the truck and saved himself.
“The instinct is, jump out of the vehicle, but his four buddies were in the vehicle with him … and he chose to place himself on top of the grenade and absorb the impact, and it saved their lives,” Edgecomb said.
McGinnis was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, in Schweinfurt, Germany.
Three others have also been awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for their actions in Iraq. They are Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor and Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham.