NEW YORK (May 23, 2007)— -- As America celebrates the Armed Forces at Fleet Week New York 2007, an annual celebration of the nation’s men and women in uniform, the memory of one Marine still lingers amongst the ranks of thousands of United States Marines.
Cpl. Jason Dunham made the ultimate selfless sacrifice when he shielded a group of fellow Marines from a grenade, covering it with his helmet and jumping on top of it.
Dunham is the only Marine who served in the Global War on Terrorism to receive the Medal of Honor.
“When you see a lonely sea bag, you know what’s going on,” said Sgt. Jared Grote with Technical Rescue Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
His sacrifice is especially remembered by three Marines who served with him in Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and are now stationed at Naval Support Facility, Indian Head, Md., with CBIRF.
“He did the most selfless thing you could do for a Marine,” said Sgt. Derek Mensen with CBIRF’s Decontamination Platoon. “Some people say it was his destiny, being born on the Marine Corps’ birthday.”
Dunham held his Marines to a high standard- a standard he followed himself.
“He was tough on his Marines, but at the same time, he took care of them, because they belonged to him,” said Sgt. Joshua Hoefler with Decontamination Platoon, CBIRF. “He didn’t throw the (private first class) on the grenade, he jumped on the grenade for the private first class. That was just the kind of leader he was.”
Hoefler says, when he discovered Dunham had passed away, it was a shock.
“He was one of those Marines who had that air about him that nothing was going to touch him. He walked with that kind of confidence,” Hoefler said.
Sgt. Jared Grote, a Marine with Technical Rescue Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, said, even though Dunham and his Marines were not related by blood, they fought for the United States like brothers.
“Misery loves company. If you sweat and bleed so much for someone, you grow closer together as a family,” Grote said.
Dunham made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and he left behind a family that will always remember.
“Of course they’re going to be sad, but I don’t think they could have been prouder. They have a family with Kilo Company,” Hoefler said.
Dunham is but one of many Marines who was missed here at Fleet Week and remembered for his honorable service with the United States Marines Corps.