Today, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) joins the fleet. Here’s a little bit of background about her namesake.
From the beginning, it seems fate had destined Jason Dunham to join the Marine Corps. He was born in Scio, N.Y., on 10 November 1981. That same day, the Corps celebrated its 206th birthday. Dunham joined the Corps when he was 22 years old.
Corporal Dunham served as a rifle squad leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced). While performing a reconnaissance in Karabilah, Iraq, on 14 April 2004, Dunham’s squadron heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire approximately 1 ½ miles away. Discovering that their battalion commander’s convoy had been ambushed, Corporal Dunham led his squad to the site to provide fire support, when they came under attack.
Corporal Dunham ordered his team to dismount their vehicles and continue the attack on foot toward the ambushed convoy, where they discovered several Iraqi vehicles attempting to retreat. As the team approached the vehicles to conduct a weapons search, an Iraqi insurgent jumped out and attacked Corporal Dunham, resulting in the two men struggling on the ground, and the insurgent releasing a grenade.
Realizing the danger, Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines and quickly used his helmet and body to cover the grenade and shield the blast. He was severely wounded, while protecting the lives of two fellow Marines.
Corporal Dunham was later flown to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he was presented the Purple Heart. He succumbed to his injuries eight days later with his parents by his bedside. On 11 January 2007, he was officially awarded the Medal of Honor.
On 23 March 2007, Navy Secretary Donald Winter officially announced the naming of the Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, the Jason Dunham (DDG 109), in a ceremony held in Corporal Dunham’s hometown.
Corporal Dunham’s undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, resulted in him paying the ultimate price for his country, upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.