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First Name: Jason

Last Name: Dunham

Birthplace: Scio, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Lee

Date of Birth: 10 November 1981

Date of Death: 22 April 2004

Rank: Corporal

Years Served: 2000-2004
Jason Lee Dunham

•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


Jason Lee Dunham
Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
Iraq War

Jason Lee Dunham (10 November 1981 - 22 April 2004) was a Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on 14 April 2004 while serving with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines during the Iraq War

Dunham is the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in the War on Terror; the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War; and the second recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in the Iraq War.

Jason Lee Dunham was born on 10 November 1981 at Scio, NY, to Dan and Debra Dunham. Jason lived in Scio his entire life with his parents, two brothers, and a sister. He graduated from Scio High school in 2000, having played basketball for his high school team.

Military Service

Dunham joined the Marine Corps in 2000. After graduating from recruit training, he served as a Security Force sentry at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia until 2003.

In early 2004, he was serving as a squad leader with 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. His unit was based in Al-Karābilah. On 14 April 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. 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. During the fighting, the individual dropped a live Mills bomb-type 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, warning the others to "watch his hands." Dunham, the insurgent, and two other Marines nearby all were knocked out by the blast, but the enemy fighter quickly awoke and was killed trying to flee the scene.

Corporal Dunham was severely wounded as a result of the grenade blast, and was immediately evacuated. Within days, he arrived at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, 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 of life support eight days later on 22 April 2004. Shortly before his death, Commandant of the Marine Corps Michael Hagee had presented Dunham with the Purple Heart. General Hagee, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada and Dunham's parents were at his bedside when he died.

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 25 May edition. In 2005 Phillips published The Gift of Valor: A War Story, which told Dunham's life story.

Medal of Honor

Shortly after Dunham's death, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lopez, his commanding officer, began the process of nominating him for the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest award for valor in combat. On 10 November 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.

The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pride in presenting the
Medal of Honor
Jason L. Dunham

For service as set forth in the following Citation:

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.

President Bush presented Corporal Dunham's family with his Medal of Honor in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on 11 January 2007.

Medals and Awards

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 Service Star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon

Dunham also held Rifle Sharpshooter and Pistol Expert marksmanship badges.


USS Jason Dunham: On 20 March 2007, the Navy reported that a new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer guided missile destroyer would be named the USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), in his honor. In a formal ceremony in Scio on 23 March 2007, Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter officially announced the naming of DDG-109 after Dunham. The keel was laid at a ceremony on 11 April 2008, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME. The ship was christened on 1 August 2009 with Dunham's mother, Debra, acting as the ship's sponsor. Among family members and officials present at the christening, also in attendance were Dunham's Kilo Company commander, Major Trent Gibson, as well as Sgt Bill Hampton and Cpl Kelly Miller, whose lives he saved, and retired Gen Hagee. A piece of Dunham's helmet is encased in the mast. The Jason Dunham was commissioned on 13 November 2010. The ship's galley, named "Jason's Dugout," is decorated with memorabilia with Dunham's favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.

The Marine Corps Security Force Barracks at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay was re-named the "Corporal Jason Dunham Barracks" in late June 2007.

The "Corporal Dunham Room" is located at the Corporals Course at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC.

A Crucible warrior's station at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA, 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 re-name the Scio Post Office, located at 4422 West Sciota Street in Scio, NY, 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 Rodham Clinton, the bill passed the Senate. On 14 March 2006, President Bush signed the bill. He also met with Dunham's family, who gave him a copy of The Gift of Valor.

The Corporal Jason L. Dunham Scholarship Foundation was established to provide monetary scholarships to Marines and Corpsmen, who wish to pursue a college education at a nationally recognized and accredited institution of higher education.

In February 2008, Robert Ferrigno dedicated the second book in his Assassins trilogy, Sins of the Assassin, to SFC Paul Smith, Corporal Dunham, and Lt. Michael Murphy.

Death and Burial

Corporal Jason L. Dunham died on 22 April 2004 as a result of wounds incurred in action on 14 April 2004. He was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Scio, NY.

Honoree ID: 1263   Created by: MHOH




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