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 nation's highest military honor will be awarded June 2 to Army Pfc. Ross McGinnis, 19, of Knox, Pa., the White House said yesterday.
He "distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism," White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said.
McGinnis was in the gunner's hatch of a humvee 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 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," Edgecomb said, "and it saved their lives."
He was assigned to the First Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, in Schweinfurt, Germany. He was posthumously promoted to specialist.
Three others have been awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for actions in Iraq: Army Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, Navy Petty Officer Second Class Michael A. Monsoor and Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham.