Cpl. Jason Dunham, Recipient of the Medal of Honor

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 12, 2007 1:41 PM


I'll let his actions speak for themselves:

In April 2004, Dunham, a 22-year-old corporal, received a report that a Marine convoy had been ambushed, according to a Marine Corps account. Dunham led his men to the site near Husaybah, halting a convoy of departing cars. An insurgent in one of the vehicles grabbed him by the throat when he went to search the car and the two fought. A grenade was dropped, and Dunham covered the explosive with his Kevlar helmet, which along with his chest plate absorbed some of the blast.

He died a few days later.

"I've lost my son but he became a part of history," Dunham's mother, Deb, said after the ceremony. "It still hurts as a parent, but the pride that you have from knowing he did the right thing makes it easier."

The somber ceremony happened yesterday at the White House:

Established by a joint resolution of Congress during the Civil War and presented 3,462 times, the Medal of Honor is awarded for gallantry in the face of enemy attack that is above and beyond the call of duty.

Dunham, who was 22 when he died, is the first Marine to earn the medal since 1970 and the second service member, after Army Sgt. Paul Ray Smith, to receive it for bravery in Iraq.

Bush praised Dunham's heroism during a White House ceremony Thursday. “By his selflessness, Cpl. Dunham saved the lives of two of his men and showed the world what it means to be a Marine,” he said.

But Bush had announced the honor at Quantico in the fall:

Bush had announced last November, at the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico, Va., that a Marine was being awarded the nation's highest military honor - prompting a booming “Oo-rah!” from the largely Marine audience.

Marines. God bless 'em.

Stars and Stripes has an audio slideshow of the ceremony. Video of the ceremony, here.

A remembrance, from 2004 reports, at Jawa Report: 

On patrol on April 14, 2004, Cpl. Dunham found himself engaged in hand-to-hand combat with an insurgent near the Syrian border. When his attacker dropped a live hand grenade, the Marine made the split-second decision to cover the weapon with his own helmet, shielding two of his men from its full explosive force.

The other Marines staggered away from the blast, injured but alive. Cpl. Dunham suffered deep shrapnel wounds to the brain. He survived eight days in a coma, only to die with his parents at his bedside. He was 22 years old.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it," said Cpl. William Hampton, one of the Marines fighting beside Cpl. Dunham when the grenade exploded. The explosion left Cpl. Hampton, a 24-year-old from Woodinville, Wash., peppered with shrapnel. "I see my arms, I see my leg. I'm always reminded of it."

The Jason Dunham Memorial page is here. There's a scholarship fund in his name, which you can find out more about, here.

It's hard to say anything about Dunham that could compare with what his life and death say about him. May he rest in peace.