FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis packed only 136 pounds into his 6-foot frame, but few have ever matched his inner strength.
McGinnis sacrificed himself in an act of supreme bravery on Dec. 4, belying his status as the youngest Soldier in Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
The 19-year-old amateur mechanic from Knox, Pa., who enjoyed poker and loud music, likely saved the lives of four Soldiers riding with him on a mission in Baghdad.
McGinnis was manning the gunner’s hatch when an insurgent tossed a grenade from above. It flew past McGinnis and down through the hatch before lodging near the radio.
His platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas of Longview, Texas, recalled what happened next.
“Pfc. McGinnis yelled ‘Grenade…It’s in the truck,’” Thomas said. “I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down.”
McGinnis did so even though he could have escaped.
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