Dan and Deb Dunham, of Scio, N.Y., read their son’s memorial following the barracks dedication in honor of Cpl. Jason L. Dunham at Naval Submarine Base King’s Bay. Dunham was mortally wounded by a grenade during an encounter with insurgents in Iraq in April, 2004, and posthumously received the Medal of Honor on Jan. 11, 2007. Dunham was assigned to the security force company at King’s Bay from 2001 to 2003.
Photographer: Seaman Dmitry Chepusov, Navy Visual News Service
Posts Tagged ‘Jason Dunham’
A Navy Destroyer will bear the name of the Allegany County Marine killed in Iraq two years ago.
The Navy’s newest Guided Missile Destroyer, DDG-109 will be named the USS JASON DUNHAM.
Dunham is the Marine Corporal from Scio who died battling insurgents in Iraq in April, 2004. Dunham dove on a grenade and saved the lives of other Marines.
Dunham became the first Marine in the Iraq War to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.
His parents, sister and brother received the medal in his honor from President Bush in January.
Secretary of the Navy Donald Winters will take part in a naming ceremony for the Destroyer Friday in Scio.
The Navy will name its newest guided missile destroyer the USS Jason Dunham, New York lawmakers said Tuesday. A formal ceremony in Scio with Navy Secretary Donald Winters is scheduled for Friday.
Sen. Charles Schumer called the destroyer naming “another fitting tribute to his life and humbling heroism.”
Rep. Randy Kuhl, R-Hammondsport, whose district includes Scio, said the destroyer will be another way to ensure that “Jason and his heroic, selfless acts will long be remembered.”
The Dunham will be an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, one of the deadliest warships afloat.
â€œI wanted him here, and I didn’t have him,â€ Deb Dunham said Thursday, following the ceremony to award her son the Medal of Honor. [snip] Deb Dunham said Jason did not write many letters while he was overseas, but often picked up the phone to talk to his family. In fact, President George W. Bush, during the ceremony, recalled a story he heard about Dunham when the Scio native handed the phone to a fellow Marine, saying â€œI’ve got a guy here who just need to talk to a mom.â€
Deb Dunham also talked about the support and compassion her hometown has given her family since Jason’s death.
â€œThey’ve watched over our home and our kids,â€ Deb Dunham said. â€œThis entire journey hasn’t stopped since we got the call that Jason was injured.â€
The family and guests were bused to the ceremony on three Marine Corps buses that bore the eerie shadows of stony-faced Marines on their one-way windows that were easier to see out of, than into.
â€œIt’s the impression the Marines want to make,â€ said Navy Commander Heidi Kraft.
A California girl, Kraft who is in the mental health field, was on duty at the military hospital near Karabilah, Iraq when Dunham was brought in.
â€œHeidi is an angel. I think she is the only reason Jason got back, because she talked to him and gave him the will to get back to us like he promised,â€ said Deb Dunham of the woman who has become a family friend.
Kraft said she was honored to be at the ceremony, and asked to have her photo taken with two Medal of Honor recipients who were in attendance. Hundreds of soldiers passed through the hospital but Jason is the one she remembers.
â€œRule number one is that young men die in war. Rule number two is that doctors can’t do anything about it,â€ she said quoting from the popular television show MASH. Kraft has written a book, originally for her children, about her experience in Iraq. â€œThey’re only four now, and they don’t even remember that I was gone. But I want them to know about why their mother was gone for eight months, and some day they’ll want to know,â€ she reasons.
Little and Brown is publishing the book â€œRule No. 2â€ in October; there is a chapter about Dunham.
Dunham was a friend to everybody except opposing pitchers. A .414 average is impressive enough. So is Dunham’s MVP from that 2000 Scio baseball team. The six-foot Dunham is a decorated champion, but it his actions in Iraq weren’t the first signs of greatness.
â€œI never would have doubted that he would have done something like that,â€ said Dunham’s former soccer coach and current Friendship coach, Al Barber.
Barber was not surprised when he heard that Scio’s goal leader in 2000 had given his life placing a helmet over a live grenade to save the lives of two fellow soldiers. The veteran soccer coach had seen Dunham – a striker – displaying the same qualities on the pitch for two years.
â€œI used an analogy of a woodchuck in the road for my soccer players,â€ said Barber. â€œThe woodchuck can’t hesitate while crossing the street and neither can a soccer player. That was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news.â€
Dunham’s reflexes were not his only qualities to benefit him in every sport he pursued. A local star by his senior year, Dunham wasn’t required to mentor the youth around him. Nobody told him to go the extra mile to make sure the freshman were comfortable on the field. Dunham’s inner-goodness naturally lent itself to bringing the younger guys up to speed.
â€œHe went to talk to the younger kids,â€ Moretti explained. â€œNot a lot of the kids do that. He had younger brothers and sisters. I think that always reminded him of what it was like being in that sit uation. He would go talk to the freshman and sophomores. He’d even sit in the stands with them.â€
â€œA lot of people seem to say he was best at baseball,â€ said Martin. â€œI thought he was an all-around athlete. He may have shined a lot more in baseball. He was one of those God-gifted kids that could do anything he set his mind to.â€
Even those who weren’t necessarily his teammates looked up to Dunham.
â€œMy two sons,â€ added Moretti. â€œMatt a junior and Joe a freshman, were ball boys back when I coached. They used to draw pictures of him playing. They loved him, too. They were as hurt as everyone else was.â€
Schumer and Clinton pressed for Dunham to be awarded the Medal of Honor and Schumer wrote a letter to the president after his death, recommending Dunham receives the medal.
â€œCorporal Dunham unflinchingly gave what Lincoln deemed â€˜the last full measure of devotion’ and his heroism reflects the true spirit of selflessness, leadership, and courage that the Medal of Honor was established to recognize,â€ Schumer said. â€œCorporal Dunham laid down his life by shielding members of his unit from danger by throwing himself on a live grenade, an act of unbelievable bravery and selflessness that saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines.â€ [snip] â€œToday’s ceremony was one of the most emotional experiences I’ve had in my time in Washington, if not my life,â€ said Rep. John R. â€œRandyâ€ Kuhl, R-Hammondsport. â€œThe Dunhams are an amazing family and they have been through so much. The East Room of The White House was full of soldiers, sailors, veterans, government officials, and friends and family of the Dunhams including many from Allegany County.â€
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, also met with reporters after the ceremony and said a few words about Dunham.
â€œIt’s always a very moving experience,â€ McCain said. â€œIt reminds us all what is at stake and the sacrifice Americans have made.â€
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, said Dunham’s family reflects his strength.
â€œHe represents the values that we hold dear in the Southern Tier and everyone is truly grateful for his sacrifice,â€ Young said.
Jason Dunham’s parents received his Medal of Honor from President Bush today.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a 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.
When President George W. Bush announced November 10 that a young corporal who made the ultimate sacrifice would be recognized with the Corps’ first Medal of Honor since Vietnam, one 8th Marine Corps District Marine had no doubts about the award’s merit.
While serving as the senior Marine for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Huff, who is now posted as the RS Dallas sergeant major, was in charge of some 900 Marines patrolling a volatile area in Iraq known as the H-K Triangle, so named for its location near the insurgent strongholds in Husaybah and Karabilah. During an ambush and subsequent fighting the afternoon of April 14, 2004, one of his Marines, Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, performed an heroic act similar to those Marines synonymous with the Corps’ storied past; names like Basilone, Daly, and Butler.
After inspecting an Iraqi police station in Karabilah, Huff and his six-vehicle convoy were headed back to Husaybah to conduct a similar assessment when insurgents ambushed them with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. The battalion commander and several other Marines, as well as the civilian translator, were injured and needed to be evacuated.
“Our first priority was getting our wounded (Marines) to safety,” said Huff. “We were in an L-shaped ambush, so the faster we got to the evacuation site, the better.”
Combined Anti-Armor Team White, Dunham’s unit, was inspecting a nearby water treatment plant for possible use as a Forward Observation Post. Upon hearing the sounds of an ambush nearby, they immediately responded to the area.
“There’s just something about Marines. When they hear a fight, they come running,” said Huff. “When CAAT White heard the explosions, they naturally gravitated toward it.”
While closing on the fight, Dunham and his Marines encountered enemy vehicles and engaged the enemy after dismounting and splitting into two elements. During the fight, an enemy vehicle column approached the Marines. Three insurgents fled the area, but Dunham and two of his Marines quickly ran them down. Cpl. Dunham caught the first insurgent and tackled him to the ground. During the scuffle, Dunham noticed a live grenade in the enemy’s hand and ordered his Marines to back up. The grenade fell, and Dunham instantly threw his Kevlar helmet and body on the explosive as it detonated. His split-second decision-making saved the lives of his fellow Marines, but ultimately cost him his own. He died eight days later at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. with his family at his side.
Huff said talk of nominating Dunham for the nation’s highest military decoration began within a week of the conflict’s end.
“Getting the eye-witness accounts from Marines was the hardest part,” explained Huff. “We were still busy fighting insurgents throughout the area, and we couldn’t pull Marines off the lines to get their version of the story. When the stories started rolling in, we realized how special (Dunham’s) actions were.”
Though Dunham’s actions distinguished himself above the Marines in his unit, the Marines of 3/7 were widely decorated for their actions in and around the H-K Triangle. In all, four Marines received Silver Stars while several others were awarded the Bronze Star.
Though he was serving in a leadership position and sought to teach his Marines lessons in leadership, the young Marines taught as many lessons as they learned, said Huff. Dunham himself was an excellent teacher, he said.
“I learned one very important lesson from Dunham; today’s Marines are just as good as yesterday’s,” he said. “The young men and women in our Corps today are as good as they have ever been.”
Such acts of bravery are spoken with ghost-story reverence throughout Recruit Training and Officer Candidates School, most notably during the Crucible. Having served as both a drill instructor and sergeant instructor, Huff admitted that reading Dunham’s summary of action rivals any object lesson and is equally inspirational.
“What he did is as heroic as anything we teach at boot camp,” said Huff.
In the end, it was Dunham’s split-second decision-making and personal sacrifice that set him apart in Huff’s mind.
“Corporal Dunham’s actions showed he had regard for his fellow Marines over regards for his own life,” said Huff, a Bronze Star with Combat “V” recipient. “He’s a hero to me.”
The 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment Summary of Action was used for this report.