The Below Article Submitted With Our Thanks By
Daniel LeBlanc-Olean-Bradford-Wellsville Times Herald

Cpl. Jason Dunham will be remembered for many things — his smile, friendliness, dedication, athleticism, but perhaps he will be best remembered as a hero. Cpl. Dunham died from injuries suffered in Iraq on April 14 when he stepped between a grenade and two of his fellow Marines. The Marines had attempted to detain a man at a vehicle checkpoint when the man tried to run away, said Cpl. Dunham’s father, Dan Dunham. The man being chased stopped, turned around and pulled the pin of a grenade. Cpl. Dunham suffered a head injury from shrapnel wounds from the grenade and was knocked unconscious. The other two Marines were injured in the attack and their condition is unknown at this point, Mr. Dunham said. Cpl. Dunham never regained consciousness, despite being transferred from a hospital in Germany and later to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md. Mr. Dunham and his wife, Deb Dunham, were able to see their son shortly before he died. Cpl. Dunham was with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, Kilo Company deployed in Iraq. He was a machine gunner and a squad leader with some men in his infantry unit under his command. He was also awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries and heroism. That’s how many family and friends will remember Cpl. Dunham: as a hero. “He’s a hero to a lot of the kids,” said Scio Spanish teacher Darcy Fuller. “He was their hero even before he put on a uniform.” Scio social studies teacher Judy Consedine said that Cpl. Dunham was “a model, someone who if I were blessed to have grandchildren that had his character, I’d be proud.” Those who knew him described him as always having a smile on his face and someone who made you laugh. “He always had a grin on his face,” said physical education teacher Scio Cindy Haas. Ms. Consedine said that her first memory of Cpl. Dunham was when she was visiting the Dunhams’ home. “He was only about 5 years old,” she said. “He came up from under the table and presented me with some chocolate chip cookies. He flashed a smile that I will never forget. It lit up the room.”
Cpl. Dunham will also be remember for his desire to help others. “He was very caring in the classroom,” said Scio teacher Chick Casagrand. “In the classroom, if someone was struggling, he was the first one to offer help.” Scio Board President Deb Aumick said that he “worried about others before himself.” His former baseball coach, Tim Smith, said that he “played hard for the team” and he was a “great older brother.” Many people in Scio and the surrounding region have reacted in a big way to help the Dunham family. The response has been “from all of Western New York,” Mr. Dunham said. Among the things people have done to help the family include bringing food, money, visiting the family, lining part of Route 19 in Scio with new American flags and putting up displays in Cpl. Dunham’s honor. “The response has been tremendous,” Mr. Dunham said. “People’s visits goes on to late at night and start early in the day. It helps us get through.” Several communities across Allegany County have lowered flags to half mast to mourn the loss of Cpl. Dunham. Legislature Chairman James Palmer, R-Alfred Station, said at Monday’s board meeting that all of Allegany County has felt the loss. A large turnout was expected for Cpl. Dunham’s funeral. There was a viewing on Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mulholland-Crowell Funeral Home, 296 N. Main St., Wellsville. On Saturday at 11 a.m., a church service was held in the Scio Central School gymnasium, where more than 1,000 people were expected to attend.

Marines Honor Corporal'sHeroic Sacrifice Submitted by: 1st Marine Division Story Identification Number: 20045143251 Story by Sgt. Jose L. Garcia

 

CAMP AL QAIM, Iraq(April 29, 2004) -- Recruits at the Corps' two recruit training depots will know Cpl. Jason L. Dunham.

They will know that the 22-year-old Marine lived up to the Corps' largest legends and laid down his own life to save those of his Marines.

Dunham, a machine gunner for Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment was memorialized by his battalion April 29th here. A crowd of more than 500 Marines, sailors and soldiers gathered under a dark and cloudy sky for a memorial service to pay their last respects to a brave hero.

Dunham, from Scio, N.Y., died from his wounds April 24. Ten days earlier, the Marine dove on top of a grenade, absorbing nearly all the blast with his own body to save his fellow Marines.

"His was a selfless act of courage to save his fellow Marines," said Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Huff, sergeant major for 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment."This generation of Marines is as good as any generation we've ever had in the Corps."

Dunham was manning a vehicle checkpoint near Husaybah after a convoy was ambushed April 14. He observed car pull up and a man jump From the vehicle, sprinting away. Dunham - in full combat gear - chased the man down, tackling him to the ground. Other Marines came to assist in the apprehension when the terrorist pulled a pin from a hand grenade. Dunham dove onto the grenade, taking the blast into his own body, saving the lives of his Marines. Dunham suffered serious wounds, along with two other Marines. But were it not for his actions, all three might have died.

"He new what he was doing," said Lance Cpl. Jason A. Sanders, 21, from McAllester, Okla., and a mortar man with Company K. "He wanted to saveMarines' lives from that grenade."
Another mortar man with the company, Lance Cpl. Mark E. Dean, 22, from Owasso, Okla., described Dunham as an unselfish Marine. Dunham's enlistment was to end in June, but he voluntarily extended his contract to join his Marines.

"We told him he was crazy for coming out here," Dean explained. "He decided to come out here and fight with us. All he wanted was to make sure his boys made it back home."


"The only way to honor him is in his own way," said Capt. Trent A. Gibson, commanding officer for Company K. "We must continue to do our duty, take care of our Marines, lead by example and take the fight to the enemy." " Dunham dreamed of joining the Los Angeles Police Department after his tour. He was born Nov. 10, 1981 and joined the Marine Corps July 31, 2000. The Marine completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. He joined 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in September 2003, serving with 4th Platoon as a machine gunner.

Huff said commanders with the battalion are still awaiting eyewitness statements from Marines before determining at what level they will recommend Dunham for a decoration.

"What Corporal Dunham did equates to what a lot of heroes of our past have done to earn the nation's highest honor," explained Sgt. Maj. Wayne R. Bell, 1st Marine Division's Sergeant Major. "If it were up to me, he'd be put in for the Medal of Honor. From bits and pieces of what I'm hearing, it very well could be. "He'll be in the history books, like many of our Marines here," Bell added.

Dunham survived his wounds for ten days when his parents, Daniel K. Dunham and Natalie J. Sherwood made the decision to end life support for the Marine. According to Bell, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada were at Dunham's bedside with his parents at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland when he died.

"That in itself speaks volumes knowing that no matter who it is - General Officer or a corporal - his act alone warrants a visit from the Commandant,"Bell said. "I know that the Marines who are alive today, because of what Corporal Dunham did, will never forget that Marine as long as they live.

"Corporal Dunham is everybody's hero," Bell added. "He sacrificed his life so his Marines could continue the mission."

"God made something special.

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