JASON LEE DUNHAM USMC
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Medal of Honor Citation
Jason Lee Dunham, the first Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient for Operation Iraqi Freedom, was born 10 November 1981 in Scio, New York. He graduated from Scio Central School in early 2000 and left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in July of that year.
Following his first duty assignment with Marine Corps Security Forces, Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Georgia, Cpl Dunham transferred to the infantry. He was eventually assigned to Company K, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, based in Twentynine Palms, California, and deployed with that unit to Iraq in early 2004.
On 14 April 2004, Cpl Dunham was participating in a reconnaissance mission as a Rifle Squad Leader for 4th Platoon, Company K, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard gun-fire erupt a short distance away following the ambush of a Marine convoy. Cpl Dunham quickly ordered his squad toward the fighting. He and his team soon were receiving enemy fire and dismounted their vehicles to proceed on foot. Cpl Dunham and his team discovered seven Iraqi vehicles attempting to depart the area and began stopping the vehicles to search them for weapons. As the Marines approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Cpl Dunham. Cpl Dunham wrestled the man to the ground but noticed that the insurgent had released a grenade during the struggle. Cpl Dunham shouted a warning to his fellow Marines before covering the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the fatal explosion himself and saving the lives of at least two other Marines.
Corporal Dunham died of his wounds eight days later at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, at the age of 22. He was laid to rest in his hometown of Scio at Fairlawn Cemetery.
The Medal of Honor was presented to Cpl Dunham's parents at a private White House ceremony by President George W. Bush on 11 January 2007 followed by another public ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, the next day. On 19 March 2007, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen James T. Conway, concurred with the naming of a barrack's building in honor of Cpl Dunham on Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, and a few days later on 23 March, the Navy announced it's newest destroyer would also bear his name as the USS Jason Dunham.
A complete list of Cpl Dunham's awards and decorations includes: Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.