A U.S. soldier who sacrificed himself to save four of his comrades in Iraq received the Medal of Honor posthumously in a ceremony at the White House Monday.
President Bush presented the nation's highest military honor to the the family of U.S. Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis.
The honored Pfc. McGinnis, "gave all for his country," the President said somberly.
On Dec. 4, 2006, McGinnis was patrolling Baghdad when an insurgent threw a grenade into his humvee. The 19-year-old shouted a warning to his fellow soldiers and jumped on the grenade. The blast killed him instantly.
"By that split-second decision, Private McGinnis lost his own life, and he saved his comrades," Bush said.
"No Greater Love"
"No one outside this man's family can know the true weight of their loss. But in words spoken long ago, we are told how to measure the kind of devotion that Ross McGinnis showed on his last day: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," President Bush told the assembled crowd in the White House's East Room.
Also in attendance were Vice President Dick Cheney, prior recipients of the Medal of Honor, military leaders, McGinnis' parents, Tom and Romayne, and his two sisters, Becky and Katie. The four soldiers whose lives were probably spared by McGinnis' actions were also there to honor their fallen comrade.
McGinnis was a native of Knox, Pa. He enlisted in the Army after some difficulties in school. Friends and family say they were watching him transform into a man.
Bush called him a regular guy, a dependable friend with a big heart and a carefree spirit. He also had a robust sense of humor, as was known as the only one in boot camp who could make his drill sergeant laugh, the president said.
The president said it was a high privilege for him to present the Medal of Honor, recognizing valor beyond anything that duty could require.
"May the deep respect of our whole nation be a comfort to the family of this fallen soldier," Bush said. "May God always watch over the country he served, and keep us ever grateful for the life of Ross Andrew McGinnis."
Three other U.S. service members who gave their lives in the Iraq War have also received the Medal of Honor.
Source: The Associated Press