Thursday, January 18, 2007

Corporal Jason Dunham, Medal Of Honour

On April 14, 2004, in Iraq near the Syrian border, Corporal Jason Dunham from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, used his helmet and his body to smother an exploding Mills Bomb let loose by a raging insurgent whom he and two other Marines tried to subdue. The explosion dazed and wounded Lance Cpl. William Hampton and Pfc. Kelly Miller. The insurgent stood up after the blast and was immediately killed by Marine small-arms fire.

Dunham lay face down with a shard the size of a dress-shirt button lodged in his head. The hard, molded mesh that was his Kevlar helmet was now scattered yards around into clods and shredded fabric. Dunham never regained consciousness and died eight days later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, with his mother and father at his bedside.

Dunham’s commanding officers, investigated his actions and nominated him for the Medal of Honor. After two years and seven months making its way to the White House, the nomination had the necessary approval from the president who presented posthumous award of the United States highest military decoration, to Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham of Scio, N.Y. His parents accepted it in a ceremony in the ornate East Room of the White House.

“The public now knows what Jason did,” said his folks. “We still have a loss, but the gift that Jason gave helps us go on.

President Bush said “We remember that the Marine who so freely gave his life was your beloved son. We ask a loving God to comfort you for a loss that can never be replaced, As long as we have Marines like Cpl. Dunham, America will never fear for her liberty.”

Before Dunham, the last Marine actions to earn the medal happened May 8, 1970, in Vietnam, according to Marine Corps History Division records. A Medal of Honor citation details Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith’s machine-gun charge that inspired a platoon facing nearly overwhelming odds: Wounded, Keith ran into “fire-swept terrain.” Wounded again by a grenade, he still attacked, taking out enemies in the forward rush. Keith fought until mortally wounded; his platoon came out on top despite being heavily outnumbered.

The last Marine to receive the Medal of Honor was Maj. Gen. James L. Day, who distinguished himself as a corporal in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. On Jan. 20, 1998, more than half a century later, President Bill Clinton presented the medal to Day, who passed away that year.

(Left: The US Navy & Marine Corps version of the Medal Of Honor)

Since the Long War began, the president has presented one Medal of Honor. On April 4, 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith posthumously earned the medal for organizing a defense that held off a company-sized attack on more than 100 vulnerable coalition soldiers. In the defense, Smith manned a .50 caliber machine gun in an exposed position until he was mortally wounded.

These recent awards have fueled arguments from veterans affairs groups to the effect that with the changing face of war today in comparison to WWII, Korea or Vietnam; the award criteria for medals for valour should be ammended to reflect this change. With more than 3000 dead and thousands more wounded life is still as sacred as it was in previous conflicts and there are now different acts of heroism being performed today that are not recognised. This has apparently sparked discussion by the top-brass in Washington who will be reviewing criteria before 2009.


Anonymous said...

Aw hell, does that mean you'll be getting even more shiny medals?

...For leaving men behind?

Lieutenant General Creedon said...


Anonymous said...

I just found out that a certain Colonel Smith was awarded a MOH amongst other things.

Lieutenant General Creedon said...

Did you doubt it for a second.