On April 22, 2004 in Karabilah, Iraq, Cpl. Jason Dunham snuffed out a grenade with his helmet and body and, in dying, saved the lives of other Marines. He’s gone now and, like other Marines before him, will never hear the praise for his heroics, wear his Medal of Honor at ceremonies or stand in formation again.
But after Saturday, Nov. 13, when the 9,200-ton, 509-foot warship USS Jason Dunham is commissioned in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the world will see a guided missile destroyer sail by, proudly bearing his name and cutting through the high seas with a crew of 276.
His Medal of Honor citation states that Dunham, who was with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, died while leading a rifle squad on a reconnaissance mission. Responding to an ambush on his commander’s convoy, Dunham and his men sped toward the site, came under fire themselves, then hiked on foot where they intercepted a column of Iraqi vehicles leaving the area.Dunham quickly found himself in a hand-to-hand fight with an insurgent who leapt out of one of the cars and when he noticed the man had released a grenade, alerted his fellow Marines before throwing himself onto it.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos will be the keynote speaker at the commissioning ceremony. In an email to Marine Corps Times, he said the following of Dunham and his family:
“Corporal Jason Dunham and the Dunham family epitomize the word selflessness. A true hero, Jason’s selfless act of heroism and leadership… will never be forgotten.”
The ship was christened April 1, 2009 at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and left for its new home in Fort Lauderdale that October.