- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007

A young Marine who fell on a hand grenade in Iraq two years ago, giving his life to save comrades, was given the Medal of Honor yesterday by President Bush. He was the second Iraq war recipient of the prestigious award.

President Bush awarded the medal, the nation’s highest military decoration, to the late Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham of Scio, N.Y. Cpl. Dunham’s parents accepted on their son’s behalf during the ceremony in the White House’s East Room.

“He was the guy who signed on for an extra two months in Iraq so he could stay with his squad. As he explained it, he wanted to ‘make sure that everyone makes it home alive,’ ” the president said. “Corporal Dunham took that promise seriously and would give his own life to make it good.”

In April 2004, Cpl. Dunham, 22, received a report that a Marine convoy had been ambushed near the Syrian border, according to a Marine Corps account.

Cpl. Dunham led his men to the site near Husaybah, halting a convoy of departing cars. An insurgent in one of the vehicles grabbed him by the throat when he tried to search the car, and the two fought. The insurgent dropped a grenade, and Cpl. Dunham covered the explosive with his Kevlar helmet, which along with his chest plate absorbed some of the blast. His actions saved the lives of at least two Marines, according to his citation.

Cpl. Dunham died eight days later at the National Naval Medical Hospital Center in Bethesda.

“I’ve lost my son but he became a part of history,” Cpl. Dunham’s mother, Deb, said after the ceremony. “It still hurts as a parent, but the pride that you have from knowing he did the right thing makes it easier.”

Immediately after the ceremony, Mr. Bush left for Fort Benning, Ga., to have lunch with about 200 soldiers and 100 of their family members before delivering a speech about his retooled war strategy, which he detailed Wednesday night in a TV address to the nation.

The president also was to watch a demonstration of infantry training and meet privately with families who have lost loved ones.

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