Pfc. McGinnis' Choice

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 02, 2007 9:25 AM

It was Dec. 4:

A terrorist hiding on a Baghdad rooftop tossed a hand grenade into a passing U.S. Army Humvee.

Pfc. Ross McGinnis, 19, of Knox, Clarion County, was manning the .50-caliber, turret-mounted machine gun. He immediately jumped on the grenade. It exploded. He died. But his unhesitating selfless act saved the lives of four squadmates.

Ross McGinnis is a hero -- a 100 percent, bona fide, true-blue American hero. "It was an extraordinary case of heroism," said Maj. Gen. David Huntoon Jr., the Army War College commandant who helped eulogize McGinnis at his funeral on Sunday. Nearly 1,000 people attended the services.

He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor.

Here's a picture of 19-year-old McGinnis, and more of his heroic story:

“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.

“He had time to jump out of the truck,” Thomas said. “He chose not to.”

Read this, in the Washington Post today, from his parents:

The choice for Ross was simple, but simple does not mean easy. His straightforward answer to a simple but difficult choice should stand as a shining example for the rest of us. We all face simple choices, but how often do we choose to make a sacrifice to get the right answer? The right choice sometimes requires honor.

Our Bible tells us that God gave up his only son to die for us so that we may live. But Romayne and I are not gods. We can't see the future, and we didn't give our son to die, knowing that he will live again. We gave him to fight and win and come home to us and marry and grow old and have children and grandchildren. But die he did, and his mother, dad and sisters must face that fact and go on without him, believing that someday we will meet again. Heaven is beyond our imagination and so we must wait to see what it's like.

God bless everybody that has comforted us in our time of grief. But we must not forget the men and women who are still putting their lives on the line; we must keep them in our prayers and keep reminding them with gifts and letters that they are loved and that we want them to return safely to their families.

Read the whole thing, and keep them all in your prayers.