Jason Dunham

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Jason Dunham
Dunham in 2000, during recruit training.
Nickname(s)Uno (English: "One")
Born(1981-11-10)November 10, 1981
Scio, New York, United States
DiedApril 22, 2004(2004-04-22) (aged 22)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Fairlawn Cemetery
Scio, New York
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service2000–2004
UnitMarine Corps Security Force Battalion
3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsMedal of Honor
Purple Heart

Jason Lee Dunham (November 10, 1981 – April 22, 2004) was a corporal in the United States Marine Corps who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions 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 and education[edit]

Jason Dunham was born on November 10, 1981, in Scio, New York, and resided there with his parents, Dan and Deb, and his three siblings, two brothers and a sister. 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 with other Marines.

Dunham joined the United States Marine Corps in 2000. After graduating from recruit training on October 27 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, Dunham 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 April 14, 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.

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 life support eight days later, on April 22, 2004.[4][5][6] Shortly beforehand, Commandant of the Marine Corps, General 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, Allegany County, New York.[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 May 25 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:

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

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 November 10, 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 Dunham's family with the Medal of Honor in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on January 11, 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:

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.

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]

USS Jason Dunham[edit]

Artist's depiction of USS Jason Dunham

On March 20, 2007, the Navy reported that a new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer guided missile destroyer would be named USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), in his honor. In a formal ceremony in Scio on March 23, 2007, Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter officially announced the naming of DDG-109 after Dunham.[13][14] The keel was laid at a ceremony on April 11, 2008, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.[15] The ship was christened on August 1, 2009, with Dunham's mother Debra acting as the ship's sponsor.[16][17]

Among family members and officials present at the christening, also in attendance were Dunham's Kilo Company commander, Major Trent Gibson, as well as Sergeant Bill Hampton and Corporal Kelly Miller, whose lives he saved, and retired General Hagee. A piece of Dunham's helmet is encased in the mast.[18][19] The Jason Dunham was commissioned on November 13, 2010.[20][21] The ship's galley, named "Jason's Dugout", is decorated with memorabilia from Dunham's favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.[22]

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.[23]

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 Clinton, the bill passed the Senate. On March 14, 2006, President Bush signed the bill.[24] He also met with Dunham's family, who gave him a copy of The Gift of Valor.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Remembering Medal of Honor recipient Jason Dunham". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps. November 16, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Corporal Jason L. Dunham, USMC (deceased)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. United States Marine Corps History Division. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Phillips, 2005.
  4. ^ a b c Dunham: A Life of Honor (video documentary). United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Garcia, Sgt Jose L. "Marines honor corporal's heroic sacrifice". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  6. ^ Phillips, Michael M. "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 March 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Phillips, Michael M. "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. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2016. Republished on Jason Dunham Memorial Website.
  9. ^ Fuentes, Gidget. "Medal of Honor is first for a Marine since Vietnam". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  10. ^ Donnelly, Sally B. "Iraq: The War Without Honors". TIME. Archived from the original on December 10, 2006. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Hoellwarth, John. "Dunham family to get Medal of Honor Thursday". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on June 12, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  12. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients". American Medal of Honor recipients for the Iraq War. United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  13. ^ "Destroyer to be named after N.Y. Marine". NBC News]. Associated Press. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  14. ^ "Navy Names New Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Jason Dunham". Navy newsstand. United States Navy. Story Number NNS070323-25. Archived from the original on June 30, 2008. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  15. ^ Gams, PFC Michael T. "Legacy lives aboard USS Jason Dunham". Marines Magazine. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  16. ^ "Navy Christens Newest Arleigh Burke-Class Ship Jason Dunham". Navy News Service. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Lugo, LCpl A.J. USS Jason Dunham (video newscast). Bath, Maine: United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  18. ^ "Ship named for MoH recipient to be christened". Navy Times. July 29, 2009. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  19. ^ Gams, PFC Michael T. "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 March 8, 2015.
  20. ^ "Jason Dunham". Naval Vessel Register. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  21. ^ "Navy to Commission New Guided-Missile Destroyer Jason Dunham". Navy News Service. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  22. ^ Shea, Sgt Jimmy D. "USS Jason Dunham commissioned, legacy lives on". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  23. ^ MC2 (SW) Michael Wiss. "Marine Barracks to be renamed for Medal of Honor recipient". Kings Bay Periscope. United States Navy. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  24. ^ Kuhl, John R. "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. Archived from the original on December 27, 2005. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  25. ^ WHEC-TV News 10 broadcast, March 16, 2006.

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