Family and Friends Remember Hero at Concert

By SFC Erica Russo
The U.S. Army Field Band

News story photo
Photo credit: SFC Robert H. McIver, Jr.
COL Thomas H. Palmatier greets Romayne McGinnis, mother of SPC Ross McGinnis
On July 5, as many Americans continued to celebrate our nation’s birthday, The U.S. Army Field Band celebrated an American who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. This performance by the Concert Band and Soldiers’ Chorus, at the Greater Latrobe High School Auditorium in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, featured a special tribute to Medal of Honor recipient Specialist Ross McGinnis.

Spec. McGinnis, a native of Knox, Pennsylvania, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on December 4, 2006, when he threw himself atop a grenade which had landed in his Humvee. His actions saved the lives of the other four Soldiers in the vehicle.
Soldiers Radio and Television created a video telling the story of Spec. McGinnis, combining interviews with those who knew him with family photos and other footage. Field Band arranger Staff Sergeant Adrian Hernandez composed a special musical accompaniment to the video for the live performance.

At the request of the band’s commander, Colonel Thomas H. Palmatier, Staff Sgt. Hernandez wrote his musical tribute in just under a week. He stated, “[It] draws most of its inspiration from the Army Strong theme… providing a sense of loss and inspiration mixed into one. It says a lot to his character to react the way he did, and this is the story I try to convey through the music.” Appropriately, the work is called “Choice of Honor.”

The video and musical presentation followed the band’s playing of the Armed Forces Salute. Friends and extended family of Spec. McGinnis, who attended the concert, were visibly moved by the audience’s standing ovation at the conclusion of “Choice of Honor.”

Parents Tom and Romayne McGinnis, and sister Katie, met with members of the band and chorus following the concert. Tom McGinnis stated, “We get treated like we’re royalty but it’s really all about Ross… We lost a son, and we’re really not all that special. It was Ross. He was faced with a situation … as we go on, we have to face difficult situations. The Army training creates this bond between Soldiers, that is stronger... They depend on each other.” Katie McGinnis also emphasized the camaraderie between Soldiers in explaining her brother’s selfless response to the situation.

To read the complete Medal of Honor citation for Spec. Ross McGinnis, please visit http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/mcginnis/index.html.

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