WASHINGTON — A Pennsylvania soldier who jumped on a grenade in Iraq to save the lives of his comrades at the cost of his own will be awarded the Medal of Honor.
The late Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis, 19, "distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism," White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said Friday. The nation's highest military honor will be bestowed on him on June 2.
McGinnis, of Knox, Pa., was in the gunner's hatch of a Humvee on Dec. 4, 2006, when a grenade sailed past him and into the vehicle where four other soldiers sat. He shouted a warning, then jumped on the grenade while it 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 vehicle 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. He was posthumously promoted to specialist.
Three others have been awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for their actions in Iraq: Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith of Tampa, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor and Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham.