The Dansville Online
  • New mess hall named after Cpl. Jason L. Dunham

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  • TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — Nearly 10 years after his death, and as the Global War on Terrorism continues, Cpl. Jason L. Dunham was honored Tuesday at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Californi. His parents, Dan and Debra Dunham, high-ranking generals and over 400 Marines, including members of the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines, were present.
    In the ceremony, the Combat Center dedicated the Cpl. Jason L. Dunham Memorial Mess Hall, which is one of three dining halls serving approximately 25,500 civilian and Department of Defense employees on the base. The base is home to the First, Second and Third 7th Marine regiments. It was also home to Dunham and it was from there that he was deployed with the 7th Marines to Iraq in 2004, according to Cpl. Lauren Kurkimills, who narrated Tuesday’s ceremony.
    The mission of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center is to conduct relevant live-fire combined arms training, urban operations, and joint/coalition level integration training which promotes operational forces readiness as well as providing facilities, services and support for the needs of resident organizations, Marines, sailors and their families.
    The Dunhams did not speak at the ceremony. Major Gen. David H. Berger, commanding general, Combat Center, spoke along with Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force and Major Gen. Larry D. Nicholson, commanding general of the First Marine Division.
    Berger said, “The Combat Center dedicates this facility to one of its own Marines, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, saving the lives of his fellow Marines, while deployed to Iraq with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.”
    In the audience was Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft, retired Navy commander who was responsible for Dunham being transferred from the field combat hospital to Germany and then on to the United States after he was mortally wounded.
    Born on the 206th anniversary of the Marine Corps, Dunham joined the Marines in 2000 after graduating from Scio Central School.
    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 April 14, 2004, Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, which came under attack. To save his fellow Marines, Dunham threw his helmet and body on an unexploded grenade, resulting in severe head trauma. He was evacuated to Germany and then returned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.. where he died eight days after the incident.
    In January 2007, he became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in the Iraq War and the first Marine since Vietnam to be awarded the Medal of Honor during a posthumous ceremony in the White House.
    In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, Dunham has received many honors, including:
    Page 2 of 2 - • The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer guided missile destroyer named the USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), which was commissioned on Nov. 13, 2010.
    • In 2011, a bridge over I-86 in Belevidere was renamed for Dunham and a stretch of state Route 19 from Belmont to Scio was renamed the Jason Dunham highway.
    • Since 2009 the remains of Dunham’s helmet have been displayed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia.
    • The Marine Corps Security Force Barracks at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. was renamed the Cpl. Jason Dunham Barracks in 2007.
    • The Cpl. Dunham room is located at the Corporals Course at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.
    • A Crucible warrior’s station at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, SC and a Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. are named in his honor.
    • In March 2006 the Scio post office, was renamed the Corporal Jason L. Dunham Post Office.
    • The Corporal Jason L. Dunham Scholarship Foundation was established to provide monetary scholarships to Marines and Corpsmen, who wish to pursue a college education at a nationally recognized and accredited institution of higher education.
    • “A Gift of Valor,” about Jason Dunham was published by Michael Phillips in 2006.
    • “Rule Number Two” by Dr. Heidi Kraft, the story of Dunham’s injuries and care while in Iraq was published in 2007.
    • In February 2008 Robert Ferrigno dedicated the second book in his Assassins trilogy, Sins of the Assassin, to Sfc. Paul Smith, Corporal Dunham, and Lt. Michael Murphy.
    • Dunham has also been awarded the following military ribbons: Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with 1 service star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. He also held rifle sharpshooter and pistol expert marksmanship badges.
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