See an audio slideshow of the presentation ceremony here.
WASHINGTON — Deb Dunham wished she could have seen her son receive the Medal of Honor, “but we know he’s watching us.”
Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham was posthumously awarded the nation’s highest honor for valor at a ceremony Thursday at the White House.
Dunham, who dived on a live grenade to shield his troops during an ambush in Iraq, is only the second U.S. servicemember to be given the top military honor for actions in that country, and the first Marine.
His mother wiped away tears as her son’s award citation was read. Later, as she accepted the Medal of Honor on behalf of her son, she gave President Bush a kiss on the cheek.
At the ceremony, Bush noted that more than half of the Medal of Honor recipients since World War II have died earning it.
“Cpl. Jason Dunham belongs to this select group,” Bush said. “On a dusty road in western Iraq, Cpl. Dunham gave his own life so that the men under his command might live.”
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west.
Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Well done Marine. Rest in peace.