The courage to volunteer

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kurt Schuh
  • Directorate of Assignments
Over the past two months, many at ARPC have volunteered in our local communities. These volunteers embody the spirit of service in America. 

Many Airmen contributed to the Medal of Honor Society's convention in Denver recently. Those who were there, may recall the amazing heroism that was written in Portraits of Valor about the living legends of the United States. The humility displayed by these true heroes was remarkable. We live in this great country because of the actions of amazing Americans throughout our history. 

I worked as a docent at the Medal of Honor Society's display at Cherry Creek Mall. I recall being asked countless times, how does someone "win" the Medal of Honor? 

The Medal of Honor is not a prize. Most of the recipients who are awarded it, never personally receive their medal, as they are awarded posthumously. The few Medal of Honor recipients from the current Global War on Terrorism have all been awarded posthumously.

The last Medal of Honor was presented to the parents of Private 1st Class Ross A. McGinnis, on June 2, 2008, at the White House: 

"Private McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on Dec. 4, 2006. 

That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled 'grenade,' allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner's hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion. 

Private McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis' extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."

Each of us has the ability to give back to our community, and to America. 

On Columbus Day, I volunteered to work in my daughter's school as a "watchdog" dad. Her school had prepared a busy schedule. I completed security patrols around the school (think of basic training), taught reading lessons, and attempted to maintain some semblance of decorum on the playground and in the cafeteria.

Every generation since the American Revolution has had the courage to volunteer. Our great nation would not be what it is today, without the courage of past generations.

There are many opportunities to volunteer, we only need the courage to step forward. I would like to thank everyone that has volunteered and continues to support this great country. When you step forward and volunteer you never know who you may inspire.