Cpl. Jason Dunham - The Marine Who Sacrificed His Life to Save Others

“The heroes are the kids who gave 100 percent; they gave their lives. The heroes are the mothers who gave up a son, who carried him for nine months, and raised him to do right, and he does right, and at eighteen, he goes to fight for his country, and he dies doing right. That's a hero.”—Edward Heffron

Cpl. Jason Dunham

In observance of Memorial Day, Jesseca Wheaton is hosting a three day blog event to honor those who died in military service, especially men and women from our respective cites/states. I chose to write about Cpl. Jason Dunham, a 22 year old Marine who jumped on a grenade to save his comrades. 

Jason Dunham was born on November 10th, 1981 (the 206th anniversary of the Marine Corps) in Scio, New York, a small town about 80 miles southeast of Buffalo. Jason's siblings looked up to him as a role model. He gave them lessons on confidence and character and was always fun to be around. One thing all his teachers remembered was his smile. His mother, Debra Dunham, learned of one of his acts of kindness after Jason died. He went out of his way to comfort a childhood friend when the other children teased her on the bus.

“All he did was sit with her on the bus,” his mother recalled. “He had a quiet way about doing the right thing.”

Cpl. Dunham graduated from high school in 2000 and entered Marine Corps Recruit Training. He was chosen to become a squad leader with Kilo Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment in September 2003. He was deployed to Iraq in early 2004 with the First Marine Expeditionary Force. His unit was based in Al-Karabilah. Cpl. Dunham loved kids, and wanted to play soccer with the Iraqi children. His comrades-in-arms formed a security perimeter around the group so that they could all play.

Cpl. Dunham with fellow Marines

He wanted to continue his college education and take the New York State Police entrance exam once he returned from Iraq, but April 14th, 2004 changed everything.

Cpl. Dunham and his men were on a reconnaissance mission near Husaybah, Iraq after receiving reports that insurgents had ambushed a marine convoy. The patrol, led by Cpl. Dunham, began inspecting the cars for weapons. When the squad approached a white Toyota Land Cruiser and discovered AK-47s, an insurgent jumped out and attacked him. Two other Marines ran over to subdue the attacker. During their struggle, the insurgent dropped a grenade. Cpl. Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines and without hesitation, threw his helmet and body over the grenade, absorbing the brunt of the explosion and saving the lives of at least two Marines. 

Cpl. Dunham was severely wounded by the grenade blast, and was evacuated.to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where he was diagnosed with brain damage. He passed away eight days later, on April 22, 2004. Shortly beforehand, Commandant of the Marine Corps presented Dunham with the Purple Heart. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions in Iraq.

“He will be recognized and memorialized in history,” his mother said. “He is in the company of remarkable men.”

Semper Fi



  1. Wow, what an amazing story. So sad, though. :') To think that someone would do something like that to save the lives of others . . . it's just so selfless.
    Thank you so much for joining in the link-up! I really enjoyed your post! :)

  2. Wow. What a great idea for a blog post. I'm so grateful for Cpl. Jason Dunham's bravery and sacrifice!