Brian D. McGinnis – Sergeant, United States Marine Corps


United States Department of Defense
News Release
No. 195-03


The Department of Defense announced today that Marine Sergeant Brian D. McGinnis, 23, of St. George, Delaware, was killed on March 30,2003, in a UH-1N Huey helicopter crash in Southern Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA)-169, Marine Aircraft Group-39, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California.

Brian McGinnis' high school wrestling coach tried to convince him to attend college, but the young man had other plans.
“He said the Marines were the best, and that's what he wanted to be a part of. He welcomed the challenge,” said Jack Holloway, who coached McGinnis at William Penn High School in New Castle.


It was there that McGinnis met Megan Mahoney, whom he married in 1999.

McGinnis died March 30, 2003, when a Marine UH-1 Huey helicopter crashed at a supply and refueling point in southern Iraq. Enemy fire wasn't involved, the military said.

“He was somebody in the prime of their life, that's for sure,” Holloway said.

At the Woodbury Heights, New Jersey, home of McGinnis' father, William McGinnis, a friend said the family wanted privacy.

A sign in the front yard had a picture of the young man in uniform and read: “In loving memory of Sgt. Brian McGinnis who made the ultimate sacrifice.” Yellow balloons and American flags surrounded the sign, and flowers had been left by others underneath.

Pendleton mourns four lost in war
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew S. Richards
11 April 2003

Four Camp Pendleton Marines who recently gave their lives securing Iraq's freedom were saluted one last time in two somber, tearful memorial services Friday at Marine Memorial Chapel.

More than 500 friends, family members and co-workers turned out. A few offered their memories of the fallen warriors:

One bore the weight of other's burdens. Another was a prototype family man.

A third was looking forward to civilian life and starting a family with his high-school sweetheart when the nation's call put his plans on hold.

Another, an infantryman, First Lieutenant Therrel Shane Childers, couldn't have found a nobler way to die, according to a fellow officer and friend.

More than 400 mourners – including Governor Gray Davis – packed pews and lined walls in the first service, which remembered three local aviators who gave their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Captain Aaron J. Contreras, Sergeant Michael V. Lalush and Sergeant Brian D. McGinnis, all members of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169, Marine Aircraft Group 39, died March 30, 2003, in a UH-1N Huey helicopter crash in southern Iraq.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Military officials say it did not result from enemy fire; they've released no other details.

Scattered mourners wept softly during the service. A few offered a consoling arm around a shoulder. Many hung their heads. Others sat motionless and stared as though revisiting a memory.

“We gathered here to share our grief and honor those lost,” said Lieuenant Colonel Daniel C. Hahne, acting commanding officer of MAG-39.

“These Marines are to be remembered as true professionals and true heroes,” he said.

Contreras, 31, piloted the helicopter. A native of Sherwood, Oregon, he joined the Marine Corps in April 1997. Contreras is survived by his wife, Janelle, and three children. He had been with the squadron since November 2000.

“Family was very important to Aaron. He knew how to squeeze every drop out of time with his family and friends,” said Contreras' brother, Tom.

Lalush, 23, a crew chief from Troutville, Virginia, joined the Marine Corps in June 1996. He had been with the squadron since February 1998. A co-worker remembers him as one who carried others' loads.

“He would (do it) not for recognition, but because he didn't know any other way,” said the man, whose name was withheld.

McGinnis, also 23, might be out of the Marine Corps now if the invasion of Iraq hadn't happened.

Instead, the Pentagon delayed his March exit and sent him to Iraq as part of its “stop-loss” policy halting discharges.

McGinnis, a St. George, Delaware, native who joined the Marine Corps in May 1998, planned to start a family with his high-school sweetheart upon leaving the Corps, said his mother, Mildred C. Williams.

“He wanted to get a job and do it right,” Williams said of her son, who joined the Corps in May 1998.

“I couldn't be more proud of Brian,” McGinnis' wife, Megan, wrote in an e-mail to the base public affairs office. “He is truly a real-life hero. His bravery is an example to all of us.”

Childers, who died leading his platoon's infantry charge in southern Iraq, was memorialized in an afternoon service that drew more than 100 people.

“There is no better way for an infantry officer to go than leading his men into adversity for a just cause,” said Maj. Mark D. Mackey, who served with Childers.

Mackey, operations officer with Weapons and Field Training Battalion here, was among about 100 mourners who turned out to remember Childers. Mackey previously served with Childers at 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

“He was a person that truly embodied the values – honor, courage and commitment,” Mackey said.

Childers, 30, was killed March 21 while leading 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1/5, in an assault on a pump station in southern Iraq. He died a second lieutenant but was posthumously promoted.

Jenny Sokol remembered her friend as a Marine who “loved the Corps as much as he loved life.”

Childers enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 1990. He received a commission in June 2001.

“We're proud of him,” his mother, Judy Childers, said from her home in Powell, Wyoming. ÒHe died doing what he believed in.”

“He gave up the rest of his days so we could live out the rest of ours in freedom,” said Davis, decorated for combat service during the Vietnam War. During the ceremony, he presented an American flag that flew over the state capitol to Childers' family.

When Brian McGinnis was nearing graduation at William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware, in 1999, he had three goals: winning state honors in varsity wrestling, marrying Megan Mahoney and joining the Marines.

He accomplished them all.

“He was a super young man,” said Jack Holloway, his wrestling coach, now executive director of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association. “He was a really friendly kid who all the other kids took to right away.”

Weeks after graduation, he married his high school sweetheart and enlisted in the Marines. His older brother, William, had joined the Air Force.

McGinnis' wife was at their home at Camp Pendleton in California Sunday when officers told her he had been killed that day in a helicopter crash at a refueling point in southern Iraq. Two other Marines were killed in the accident, and one was injured.

McGinnis, 23, grew up in St. Georges, Delaware. His father, William, a firefighter in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey, and his stepmother, Theresa, placed a tribute on their lawn: two American flags, a photograph and a sign saying McGinnis had made the “ultimate sacrifice.”


  • IRAQ
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/13/1979
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/30/2003


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