Jeff Emanuel

Jason Dunham, of Scio, NY, is just like any other young American male in his mid-20s, except for this important distinction: he's dead.

But it's not that simple. To be more accurate about Jason – specifically regarding what it is that really makes him different from any other 24-year-old – you must know this additional context: Jason Dunham, a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps, is no longer with us because he gave his life in Iraq for his Marine Corps brothers, as well as for the freedom of every one of us back home. He would have turned 25 Friday -- coincidentally, the 231st birthday of the Marine Corps, and the day before Veterans Day.

Though necessary, it hardly scratches the surface of sufficient repayment to Corporal Dunham, and to his family, that he will be posthumously presented the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest possible award for military valor, and one which must be directly awarded by the President of the United States.

The Medal, established by Joint Resolution of Congress, is awarded to an Armed Forces member who “distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.” Corporal Jason Dunham embodies these principles and requirements to a “T.” and the Medal of Honor will be presented to Corporal Dunham's family at an upcoming ceremony at the White House.

What Dunham did to earn this most distinguished of awards is stunning in its selflessness and heroism. According to a brief report of his actions:

On April 14, 2004, Corporal Dunham heroically saved the lives of two of his fellow Marines by jumping on a grenade during an ambush in the town of Karabilah.

When a nearby Marine convoy was ambushed, Corporal Dunham led his squad to the site of the attack, where he and his men stopped a convoy of cars trying to make an escape. As he moved to search one of the vehicles, an insurgent jumped out and grabbed the corporal by the throat.

The corporal engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. At one point, he shouted to his fellow Marines, "No. No. No. Watch his hand."

Moments later, an enemy grenade rolled out and Corporal Dunham jumped on the grenade to protect his fellow Marines, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast. Corporal Dunham succumbed to his wounds on April 22, 2004.

Jeff Emanuel

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran, is a Leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a contributing editor for conservative web log, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.

Be the first to read Jeff Emanuel's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.