Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Jason Dunham (DDG-109)


Jason Lee Dunham, born on 10 November 1981 at Scio, N.Y., played basketball in high school and graduated from Scio Central School in 2000. He shipped out to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., in July of that year, and following security duty at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Ga., Cpl. Dunham, USMC, transferred to the infantry. He subsequently served with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and deployed with that company to Iraq in early 2004.

Dunham took part in a reconnaissance mission as a rifle squad leader for the 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, on 14 April 2004. Iraqi insurgents ambushed a Marine convoy less than a mile and half away, firing rocket propelled grenades and small arms at the Marines. Dunham heard the shooting and quickly ordered his squad, trained and equipped to fight as a Combined Anti-Armor Team, toward the battle. Enemy fire tore into the Marines, and Dunham ordered his Marines to dismount from their vehicles and proceed on foot.

Dunham and his team discovered seven Iraqi vehicles that attempted to flee from the area, and began to halt the vehicles to search them for weapons. As the Marines approached the vehicles, an insurgent leapt out and attacked Dunham. The corporal wrestled the man to the ground, but the insurgent released a grenade during the struggle. Dunham spotted it, shouted a warning to his fellow Marines, and covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the fatal explosion, and thus saving the lives of at least two other Marines.

Dunham died of his wounds at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., eight days later, at the age of 22. He was laid to rest at Fairlawn Cemetery in his hometown of Scio.

President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Dunham’s parents during a private ceremony at the White House on 11 January 2007, followed the next day by a public ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Va. On 19 March 2007, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway, USMC, concurred with naming a barracks building on Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, in honor of Dunham.

(DDG-109: displacement 9,515; length 510'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 312; armament 1 5-inch, 1 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 1 Mk 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS), 2 25 millimeter, 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft land and replenish but not embark 1 Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III; class Arleigh Burke)

Jason Dunham (DDG-109) was laid down on 11 April 2008 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works Corp.; launched on 2 August 2009; sponsored by Mrs. Debra A. Dunham, the late Cpl. Dunham’s mother; and commissioned on 13 November 2010, Cmdr. M. Scott Sciretta in command.


The colors dark blue and gold represent the Navy. The two chevronels in base recall Cpl. Dunham’s rank. The scarlet pale represents the Marine Corps, and refers to the trouser stripe worn by noncommissioned officers. The Marine noncommissioned officer’s sword on the stripe is point down, signifying Dunham’s sacrifice of his life to protect his Marines. The helmet of antiquity recalls the service traditions of brotherhood which hold true today, and recalls the incident of enemy attack on Dunham’s squad during which he used his helmet to contain a grenade and covered it with his body to protect his squad at the cost of his own life. The purple detail on the helmet refers to the Purple Heart Medal that he received. The distinctive shield shape is that used on the state arms of New York, Dunham’s home state. The gold mullet in dexter chief signifies the loss of Dunham to his service and his family. The gold border denotes the unity and cohesion of Marines, which characterize the force and clearly influenced Dunham’s action to defend his troops.



The decorations awarded to Dunham are represented along with the eagle, globe, and anchor insignia of the Marine Corps; the inverted mullet symbolizes the Medal of Honor, awarded to Dunham for his sacrifice in protecting his squad, and the Combat Action Ribbon, awarded to him along with the Purple Heart, which is referenced on the antique helmet appearing on the shield.


To dexter side a Navy officer’s sword, to sinister an enlisted sailor’s cutlass, saltirewise points up Proper, representing the full complement of the ship’s crew.

Cpl. Dunham stands proudly to attention alongside Jason Dunham
Cpl. Dunham stands proudly to attention alongside Jason Dunham and the Stars and Stripes in this photographic collage prepared by the guided missile destroyer. The ship’s motto, “Semper Fídelis, Semper Fortís,” combines the Marine Corps’ motto with a traditional Navy saying, and translates as “Always Faithful, Always Strong.”

Jason Dunham operates with Destroyer Squadron 28 out of Norfolk, Va.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

18 February 2014

Published: Wed Jul 22 14:27:55 EDT 2015