History Mighty Heroes

MoH Monday: Corporal Jason Lee Dunham

Corporal Jason Lee Dunham was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps who received a posthumous Medal of Honor, through courageous action in Iraq.
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corporal dunham

Corporal Jason Lee Dunham was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps who received a posthumous Medal of Honor, earning his award through courageous action in Iraq.

Corporal Jason Dunham Background

Dunham was born in Scio, New York, on November 10, 1981. He graduated high school in 2000 and joined the Marines shortly after. Once he completed basic recruit training, he was assigned to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. In early 2004, he became a squad leader. He deployed to Iraq with the 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Forces. He deployed to Iraq to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom shortly after.

Medal of Honor Action

Enemy fighters attacked a U.S. Marine Corps convoy in Husaybah, Iraq, on April 14, 2004. He and his squad received notification and went out to assist. Upon arrival at the scene of the attack, Dunham and his men noticed a set of parked cars. They inspected a white Toyota Land Cruiser and spotted loaded rifles in the backseat. The driver jumped from the vehicle and rushed the service members, attempting to escape the area.

Dunham grabbed him, and they began to fight hand to hand. As they wrestled, the suspect’s jacket dropped a hand grenade. Realizing that an explosion might kill the members of his squad, he dove onto the device, using his helmet to cover the explosive and absorb most of the blast. The grenade detonated, and Dunham and two other service members sustained injuries.

Medical personnel flew Dunham to Walter Reed Hospital, where he received treatment while in a coma. Though the medical staff worked tirelessly to save him, Dunham suffered severe brain damage because of the blast. The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps presented Dunham with a Purple Heart while he was still unconscious. On April 22, 2004, Dunham’s family chose to take him off life support.

Maj. Trent A. Gibson, the executive officer for 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Jason Dunham’s former company commander, admires the display of items that were permanently sealed in the destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham.

Award Ceremony

On January 11, 2007, President George W. Bush held a special ceremony at the White House where he presented Dunham’s family with his Medal of Honor. Corporal Dunham received the award for his heroic actions during the Iraq War, making him the second U.S. servicemember to receive the award for action in that conflict. He was also the first marine to earn the medal since the Vietnam War.

The Navy honored Dunham’s sacrifice by naming a guided missile destroyer after him in 2007. The ship was called the USS Jason Dunham. Additionally, in 2007, the security force barracks at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay was renamed Cpl. Jason Dunham Barracks in his honor.