A True Hero – Jason Dunham

This is a post from my blog section “Profiles of True Heroes – Military and Law Enforcement”.  I love to go cycling.  As I started getting serious about it, I decided to name my routes after people – and who better to dedicate my routes to than the heroes in military and law enforcement?  

After completing a route, I would select a hero I had heard about and then write about them.  There are three types of people in this post: some gave their service for America and served in the armed forces.  Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  And some protected the local community and died in the line of duty.  

After their story, I included information about the route I dedicated to these heroes.  I hope you can learn more about them and gain an understanding of what they have done for us.

USMC, Cpl. Jason Dunham – Iraq War

This route is dedicated to US Marine Corps Corporal Jason L. Dunham.  Jason was a squad leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force

testJason Dunham, was born on November 10, 1981 in Scio, New York and lived there his entire life with his parents Dan and Deb and two brothers and a sister.  Coincidentally he was born on the 206th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps!  He graduated from Scio High school in 2000, having played basketball for his high school team.

Dunham joined the Marine Corps that same year.  After graduating from recruit training on October 27, 2000 from Golf Company Platoon 2092, he served as a Security Force sentry at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Georgia until 2003.

jason_dunham03In early 2004, he was deployed to Iraq.  His unit was based in Al-Karābilah, Iraq.  On April 14, 2004, the battalion commander’s convoy came under attack near Husaybah, Iraq and the 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 him.  During the fighting, the individual dropped an armed hand grenade.  To save the rest of his men, Dunham deliberately threw himself on the grenade, attempting to use his PASGT ballistic Kevlar helmet to shield himself and others from the explosion, warning the others to “watch his hands”.  Dunham, the insurgent, and two other Marines nearby were all wounded by grenade fragments.  Although the enemy fighter recovered sufficiently to flee the scene, he was shot dead while trying to escape.

340xCorporal Dunham was severely wounded by the grenade blast and was immediately evacuated.  Within days, he arrived at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland in a coma.  After being diagnosed with brain damage and deemed unlikely to recover, he was taken off of life support eight days later, on April 22, 2004.  Shortly beforehand, Commandant of the Marine Corps Michael Hagee presented Dunham with the Purple Heart.  Dunham’s parents were at his bedside when he died.  He was buried in Fairlawn Cemetery in Scio.

In 2004, Michael M. Phillips, staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, wrote an article summarizing Dunham’s actions.  In 2005, Phillips published The Gift of Valor: A War Story, which told Dunham’s life story.

090801-M-3123G-002Shortly after his death, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lopez, Dunham’s commanding officer, began the process of nominating him for the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest award for valor in combat.  On November 10, 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, making him the first recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in the Iraq War and the first Marine recipient for actions since the Vietnam War.

President Bush presented Cpl. Dunham’s family with the Medal of Honor in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on January 11, 2007.

0bf10660-16ad-47bd-b873-01e806ad7f3b-grid-6x2On March 20, 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 March 23, 2007, Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter officially announced the naming of DDG-109 after Dunham.  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 November 13, 2010.  The ship’s galley, named “Jason’s Dugout”, is decorated with memorabilia with Dunham’s favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.

Jason Dunham – 1981-2004 – NEVER FORGOTTEN!


Distance: 30.24 miles

Duration: 2 hours, 42 minutes

Average Pace: 11.2 mph

Date: 05/13/2014

This is the southern-most route I’ve taken yet. I started in Parker and headed south on the Cherry Creek Trail. I’ve been on this trail before but for this route, I conquered all of the Cherry Creek Trail! After going as far south as I could, I backtracked north and took the Hidden Mesa Trail. This was some nice back-country! The only drawback was that because it snowed yesterday, there was a lot of mud. Mud all over my legs, all over my gears, my breaks, tires, you name it! I turned back after a few miles and went northbound again on Cherry Creek. At first, I was planning on stopping at my car but I had only gone 19.9 miles by then, so I kept going until my Garmin said “30.15 miles”!  1629 calories, 401 miles in 2014 and 741.36 total miles since Aug 2013!



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