GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Soldiers training at Grafenwöhr on Monday remembered Pfc. Ross McGinnis as a consummate professional on the battlefield and a comedian in the barracks.
McGinnis, 19, of Knox, Pa. — who was given the Medal of Honor posthumously on Monday — was killed on Dec. 4, 2006, after jumping on a grenade thrown into his Humvee during a patrol in Baghdad.
He was a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. The unit has since been reflagged as Company C, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade.
McGinnis deserved the medal, Company C soldiers said.
Cpl. Douglas Cook, 21, of Kalamazoo, Mich., met McGinnis shortly before the unit went to Grafenwöhr for pre-deployment training in 2006.
"He’d give you the shirt off his back. He’d give you the shoes off his feet if they wouldn’t blister up," he said.
Cook, who rode in a truck with McGinnis on daily patrols in Baghdad, said his friend was asked many times what he’d do if a grenade landed in the truck and he told others he’d probably jump out.
Cpl. Ismel Sanchez, 25, of Greensboro, N.C., was driving the lead vehicle in the convoy on the day McGinnis died.
The pair met in December 2005 shortly after Sanchez joined Company C and partied together at German nightclubs before they deployed, he said.
"He was the go-getter of all the girls. He’d go out there and dance and have fun and that attracts the ladies," Sanchez said.
In Iraq, he was a consummate professional focused on the job. In two firefights before he was killed, McGinnis opened up on the enemy with the .50-caliber gun he manned on the top of a Humvee, Sanchez said.
"He loved being a machine-gunner. He wasn’t scared to pull the trigger," Sanchez said, adding that the Medal of Honor was well deserved. "I’m glad he got it. It was about time," he said.