|Veteran Spotlight: Army Sgt. Terry McGinnis|
|By Wayne Soares, iBerkshires columnist|
04:08PM / Sunday, January 31, 2021
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — At 27 years of age, Terry McGinnis is far ahead of his peers. An extremely humble, courteous and respectful young man, he served his country in the Army for six years, finishing with the rank of sergeant.
His story is an amazing one.
McGinnis grew up in Englewood, Calif., and did his basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. His first assignment was at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii as a member of the 2nd Platoon, 25th Infantry Division. He remembered there "being a great deal of history there." After being deployed to the Philippines to train that country's Scout Rangers, he was sent to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
"I went back and focused on what I had to do ... told my guys that if you fail at it, make sure as hell you look good doing it," he said.
I asked McGinnis about the holidays and he said he didn't get any holidays, and had no family -- "I grew up in an orphanage."
With his paperwork approved, he was sent back to Fort Benning for Ranger School.
"Probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," he said. "[It]rained all the time, got trench foot, lost 35 pounds." I asked him about a mentor and he didn't hesitate, "my platoon sergeant, Ramirez ... he really pushed me."
From Ranger School he went straight to Ranger Assessment and Selection -- a brutal regimen of running, sprinting, carrying soldiers, literally no sleep (three hours per night), guzzling water in a certain time frame and eating your meals in 30 seconds. After graduating from Airborne Jump School ("it was easy, all we had to do was listen and jump out of an airplane"), Sgt. McGinnis began the dreaded SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) training in counterintelligence for if a soldier gets caught with information.
"They sent us out on a fake mission," he said. "As we were crossing a road, these four trucks pulled up ... I got handcuffed and thrown in the back ... I got waterboarded, punched in the face. They even broke my finger ... the last day was horrible."
Out of the 20 soldiers who participated, McGinnis was one of only five who graduated.
He would return to JB Lewis-McChord to get top secret clearance and get assigned to Ranger Reconnaissance Company, training with the Green Berets. He was then sent to both Marine and Army sniper schools, describing the latter as "pretty intense … they pound into your skull the standards so you react to muscle memory."
McGinnis would be deployed an astounding seven times and saw intense combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. He didn't want to speak about it but said, "on my last deployment we got into a firefight and I got blown up ... all that I remember is waking up in Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany." He was awarded the Purple Heart.
His thoughts on service? "I liked doing it," he said. "Liked helping the little person ... always wanted to serve and have a purpose."
He is a proud member of American Legion Post 152 in Williamstown. Sgt. Terry McGinnis, thank you for your service to our great country.
Veteran Spotlight is a column by Wayne Soares that will run twice a month. Soares is a motivational speaker and comedian who has frequently entertained the troops overseas with the USO. To recommend a veteran for Soares' column, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.