On December 4th, 2006, A young Soldier was manning the machine gun in an armored Humvee in the Azamiyah neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq. Suddenly an insurgent from above the Humvee pitched a grenade towards the machine gunner. The grenade went down the gunner’s hatch inside the Humvee. Within this Humvee were four other Soldiers. The young machine gunner had seconds to react.
Ross Andrew McGinnis
McGinnis was the type of guy that liked video games and mountain biking. Although not the best student, McGinnis was highly intelligent and was very willing to serve his country. On the day McGinnis turned seventeen, he signed up for the Army in the Delayed Enlistment Program. What the Delayed Enlistment Program allowed him to do was reserve a slot for basic training. He was that willing to join the Army.
For a rather skinny guy (6 feet tall at 136 pounds), McGinnis could pack a mean punch. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, McGinnis was an expert shot shooting left-handed, and a sharpshooter shooting right-handed. McGinnis’s company (Charlie) was responsible for squashing violence after Saddam’s verdict.
When the grenade fell through the hatch, it became lodged near the radio at McGinnis’s feet. McGinnis had one clear choice. Since he was in the gunner position, he could have easily escaped the Humvee and spared his own life.
It would not have been possible for the other Soldiers to react in time to throw the grenade from the vehicle. If McGinnis was to spare his life, it would be knowing that four of his fellow Soldiers would likely be killed in the explosion.
McGinnis yelled, “Grenade! It’s in the truck!”
McGinnis then placed his back against the grenade (laying on it with his body armor) in order to shield his fellow Soldiers from the blast. McGinnis lost his life in the explosion while the other Soldiers escaped with minor injuries.
For pictures of Pfc. McGinnis, please check out his War Heroes profile.
This incident happened a little over five months ago. I found out about it in Slate.