19 years old from Knox, Pennsylvania
1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
December 4, 2006
His mission was to patrol the streets of Adhamiyah in northeast Baghdad and find a place to put a 250-kilowatt generator that would provide electricity for more than 100 homes. But it's a mission he wasn't able to accomplish.
Shortly after Pfc. McGinnis's convoy left the compound, and less than a mile from FOB Apache, an insurgent standing on a nearby rooftop threw a grenade into the sixth, and last, Humvee. "Grenade!" yelled McGinnis, who was manning the vehicle's M2 .50-caliber machine gun. He tried to deflect the grenade but it fell into the Humvee and lodged between the radios.
"McGinnis turned and looked down and realized no one in the truck knew where the grenade was," said Capt. Michael Baka, his company commander. "He knew everyone had their doors combat-locked and they wouldn't be able to get out."
Instead of jumping out of the truck to save his own life, like he had been trained to do, McGinnis threw his back against the radio mount, smothering the explosive with his body. The grenade exploded just as Pfc. McGinnis covered it. The blast filled the vehicle with black smoke and debris and blew the driver's door and right passenger's door wide open and blew the machine gun off its mount. The explosion hit McGinnis on his sides and his lower back, under his vest. He was killed instantly.
The other four soldiers in the Humvee suffered relatively minor injuries.
On the morning of December 4, 2006, before his convoy had left, Cpt. Baka has signed a waver promoting Pfc. McGinnis to Specialist and he was posthumously promoted to E-4.
For his heroic actions on that day, McGinnis was awarded the Silver Star and was nominated for a Medal of Honor which he received on June 2, 2008.
These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
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