Jason Dunham

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Jason Lee Dunham
JasonDunham.jpg   A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.
Dunham in 2000, during recruit training.
Nickname(s) Uno (English: "One")
Born (1981-11-10)10 November 1981
Scio, New York, U.S.
Died 22 April 2004(2004-04-22) (aged 22)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Buried at Fairlawn Cemetery
Scio, New York, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 2000–2004
Rank USMC-E4.svg Corporal
Unit Marine Corps Security Force Battalion
3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
Battles/wars Iraq War
Awards Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon.svg Combat Action Ribbon

Jason Lee Dunham (10 November 1981 – 22 April 2004) was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps who was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines during the Iraq War. While on a patrol in Husaybah, his unit was attacked and he deliberately covered an enemy grenade to save nearby Marines. When it exploded Dunham was gravely injured and died eight days later.

Early life[edit]

Jason Dunham, was born 10 November 1981 in Scio, New York, and resided there his entire life with his parents Dan and Deb, and two brothers and a sister. Coincidentally he was born on the 206th anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps. He graduated from Scio High school in 2000,[1] having played basketball for his high school team.[2]

Military service[edit]

Dunham scales a wall during training in 2000

Dunham joined the Marine Corps in 2000. After graduating from recruit training on 27 October 2000 from Golf Company Platoon 2092, he served as a Security Force sentry at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia until 2003.[2]

In early 2004, he was serving as a squad leader with 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.[3] His unit was based in Al-Karābilah. On 14 April 2004, the battalion commander's convoy came under attack near Husaybah, Iraq, and 4th Platoon was dispatched on patrol to investigate. Dunham and his squad intercepted a number of cars spotted near the scene of the attack, which the patrol detained to search for weapons.[4] When the squad approached a white Toyota Land Cruiser and discovered AK-47s, the driver exited and attacked the Marines in an attempt to flee. Dunham responded by closing in for hand-to-hand combat to subdue him. During the fighting, the individual dropped an armed Mills 36M hand grenade. Dunham, to save the rest of his men, deliberately threw himself on the grenade, attempting to use his PASGT helmet to shield himself and others from the explosion,[2] warning the others to "watch his hands."[4] Dunham, the insurgent, and two other Marines nearby were all wounded by grenade fragments. Although the enemy fighter recovered sufficiently to flee the scene, he was shot dead while trying to escape.

Corporal Dunham was severely wounded by the grenade blast, and was immediately evacuated. Within days, he arrived at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland in a coma, where he was being treated for his injuries. After being diagnosed with brain damage and deemed unlikely to recover, he was taken off of life support eight days later, on 22 April 2004.[4][5][6] Shortly beforehand, Commandant of the Marine Corps Michael Hagee presented Dunham with the Purple Heart. Dunham's parents were at his bedside when he died.[5] He was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Scio.[7]

In 2004, Michael M. Phillips, staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, wrote an article summarizing Dunham's actions that appeared on page A1 of the 25 May edition.[8] In 2005, Phillips published The Gift of Valor: A War Story, which told Dunham's life story.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]

In addition to the Medal of Honor and his other military decorations, Dunham has also received other honors; including being the namesake of a United States Navy Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) named in his honor, the United States Post Office in Scio, New York was renamed the Corporal Jason L. Dunham Post Office, The Marine Corps Security Force Barracks at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Georgia was renamed the Corporal Jason Dunham Barracks in his honor, a Crucible warrior's station at both Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. and San Diego, Ca. is named in his honor, the Marine Corps League Chapter in Palm Desert, Ca. is named in his honor. Also, a chapter of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club International is named in his honor.

Military decorations[edit]

Dunham's awards include:[2]

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Bronze star
USMC Rifle Sharpshooter badge.png USMC Pistol Expert badge.png
Medal of Honor Purple Heart Combat Action Ribbon
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 1 campaign star Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Sharpshooter Rifle marksmanship badge Expert Pistol marksmanship badge
Dunham's uniform on display aboard USS Jason Dunham 
President George W. Bush presents the Medal of Honor to the family of Jason Dunham during a ceremony in the East Room on 11 January 2007 

Medal of Honor[edit]

Shortly after his death, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lopez, Dunham's commanding officer, began the process of nominating him for the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest award for valor in combat. On 10 November 2006, at the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, President George W. Bush announced that Corporal Dunham would receive the Medal of Honor, making him the second recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in the Iraq War and the first Marine recipient for actions since the Vietnam War.[9]

President Bush presented Cpl Dunham's family with the Medal of Honor in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on 11 January 2007.[10][11]


"The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to


For service as set forth in the following citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander's convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service".[12][13]

USS Jason Dunham[edit]

Artist's depiction of USS Jason Dunham

On 20 March 2007, the Navy reported that a new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer guided missile destroyer would be named the USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), in his honor. In a formal ceremony in Scio on 23 March 2007, Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter officially announced the naming of DDG-109 after Dunham.[14][15] The keel was laid at a ceremony on 11 April 2008, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.[16] The ship was christened on 1 August 2009, with Dunham's mother Debra acting as the ship's sponsor.[17][18] Among family members and officials present at the christening, also in attendance were Dunham's Kilo Company commander, Major Trent Gibson, as well as Sgt Bill Hampton and Cpl Kelly Miller, whose lives he saved, and retired Gen Hagee. A piece of Dunham's helmet is encased in the mast.[19][20] The Jason Dunham was commissioned on 13 November 2010.[21][22] The ship's galley, named "Jason's Dugout", is decorated with memorabilia with Dunham's favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.[23]

Other namesakes[edit]

Sgt Mark Dean (right) and Maj Trent Gibson (left) inspect the remains of Dunham's helmet before it was displayed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in July 2009

The Marine Corps Security Force Barracks at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay was renamed the Cpl Jason Dunham Barracks in late June 2007.[24]

The Cpl Dunham room is located at the Corporals Course at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.

A Crucible warrior's station at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California was named in his honor. When recruits arrive at this station, they will read Cpl Dunham's Medal of Honor citation, and then perform ground-fighting techniques reflecting those Dunham used to defend himself and his fellow Marines leading to his nomination for the Medal of Honor.

A bill to rename the Scio post office, located at 4422 West Sciota Street in Scio, New York, as the Corporal Jason L. Dunham Post Office was submitted to the House of Representatives in December 2005 by Congressman Randy Kuhl. The bill was immediately passed in the House with support from all New York delegation members. With the support of both New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the bill passed the Senate. On 14 March 2006, President Bush signed the bill.[25] He also met with Dunham's family, who gave him a copy of The Gift of Valor.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Remembering Medal of Honor recipient Jason Dunham". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Corporal Jason L. Dunham, USMC (deceased)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. United States Marine Corps History Division. Retrieved 19 July 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Phillips, 2005.
  4. ^ a b c Dunham: A Life of Honor (video documentary). United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Garcia, Sgt Jose L. (29 April 2004). "Marines honor corporal's heroic sacrifice". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Phillips, Michael M. (6 January 2007). "How Do You Repay A Hero's Sacrifice; Three years ago, a fellow Marine gave his life to save Kelly Miller. It has been a hard road since.". The Wall Street Journal. p. A1. 
  7. ^ "Jason Dunham". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 25 December 2007. 
  8. ^ Phillips, Michael M. (25 May 2004). "In Combat, Marine Put Theory to Test, Comrades Believe Cpl. Dunham's Quick Action In Face of Grenade Saved 2 Lives" (PDF). The Wall Street Journal. p. A1. Retrieved 7 March 2008.  Republished on Jason Dunham Memorial Website.
  9. ^ Fuentes, Gidget (10 November 2006). "Medal of Honor is first for a Marine since Vietnam". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 10 November 2006. 
  10. ^ Donnelly, Sally B. (3 December 2006). "Iraq: The War Without Honors". TIME. Retrieved 4 December 2006. 
  11. ^ Hoellwarth, John (8 January 2007). "Dunham family to get Medal of Honor Thursday". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  12. ^ "Medal Of Honor citation for Cpl Jason L. Dunham". Headquarters Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. 12 January 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients". American Medal of Honor recipients for the Iraq War. United States Army Center of Military History. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  14. ^ Associated Press (21 March 2007). "Destroyer to be named after N.Y. Marine". msnbc. Retrieved 19 July 2009. 
  15. ^ "Navy Names New Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Jason Dunham". Navy newsstand. United States Navy. 23 March 2007. Story Number NNS070323-25. Retrieved 28 May 2007. 
  16. ^ Gams, PFC Michael T. (25 March 2010). "Legacy lives aboard USS Jason Dunham". Marines Magazine. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  17. ^ "Navy Christens Newest Arleigh Burke-Class Ship Jason Dunham". Navy News Service. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  18. ^ Lugo, LCpl A.J. (1 August 2009). USS Jason Dunham (video newscast). Bath, Maine: United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  19. ^ "Ship named for MoH recipient to be christened". Navy Times. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009. 
  20. ^ Gams, PFC Michael T. (15 July 2009). "Putting the pieces in their place; Cpl. Dunham’s legacy lives on". Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  21. ^ "Jason Dunham". Naval Vessel Register. Retrieved 4 August 2009. 
  22. ^ "Navy to Commission New Guided-Missile Destroyer Jason Dunham". Navy News Service. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  23. ^ Shea, Sgt Jimmy D. (16 November 2010). "USS Jason Dunham commissioned, legacy lives on". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  24. ^ MC2 (SW) Michael Wiss (11 April 2007). "Marine Barracks to be renamed for Medal of Honor recipient". Kings Bay Periscope (United States Navy). Retrieved 19 July 2009. 
  25. ^ Kuhl, John R. (19 December 2005). "Kuhl Bill to honor Dunham passes House: Kuhl bill names post office in Scio after fallen Marine Corporal Jason Dunham". New York's 29th congressional district. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 9 July 2006. 
  26. ^ WHEC-TV News 10 broadcast, 16 March 2006.

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