USA — Commissioning Slated for USS Jason Dunham

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2010 — Final prepa­ra­tions are under way in Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., for the com­mis­sion­ing tomor­row of the Navy’s newest guid­ed-mis­sile destroy­er, to be named hon­or­ing Marine Corps Cpl. Jason L. Dun­ham, who received the Medal of Hon­or posthu­mous­ly for hero­ism in Iraq.

USS Jason Dunham
The USS Jason Dun­ham, referred to until its Nov. 13 cer­e­mo­ny as “Pre-com­mis­sion­ing Unit Jason Dun­ham,” enters its home port in Florida’s Port Ever­glades Har­bor. The ship is named after Marine Corps Cpl. Jason L. Dun­ham, who was mor­tal­ly wound­ed by insur­gents in Iraq in April 2004 and was posthu­mous­ly award­ed the Medal of Hon­or.
U.S. Navy pho­to by Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Mar­tin Cuaron
Click to enlarge

Com­man­dant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos is slat­ed to deliv­er the keynote address dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny at Port Ever­glades, and Debra Dun­ham will serve as spon­sor of the Arleigh Burke-class destroy­er named for her late son.

Navy Cmdr. M. Scott Sciret­ta, USS Jason Dunham’s first com­mand­ing offi­cer, and his 276-mem­ber crew also will par­tic­i­pate in the cer­e­mo­ny.

Dun­ham died April 22, 2004, eight days after throw­ing him­self and his Kevlar hel­met onto an ene­my grenade to pro­tect two fel­low Marines in Kara­bi­lah, Iraq.

The 22-year-old Marine, who served with Com­pa­ny K, 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 7th Marines, based at Twen­ty­nine Palms, Calif., was lead­ing a rifle squad dur­ing a recon­nais­sance mis­sion, when he and his fel­low Marines respond­ed to an attack on their commander’s con­voy. Dun­ham wres­tled an insur­gent to the ground, and jumped onto a live grenade the insur­gent had dropped to smoth­er the blast.

Then-Pres­i­dent George W. Bush announced on Nov. 10, 2006 -– which would have been Dunham’s 25th birth­day and cor­re­sponds with the Marine Corps’ birth­day -– that Dun­ham would become the first Marine to be award­ed the nation’s high­est mil­i­tary hon­or since the Viet­nam War. Bush pre­sent­ed the Medal of Hon­or to Dunham’s fam­i­ly dur­ing a Jan. 11, 2007, White House cer­e­mo­ny.

“With this medal, we pay trib­ute to the courage and lead­er­ship of a man who rep­re­sents the best of young Amer­i­cans,” he said. “By his self­less­ness, Cor­po­ral Dun­ham saved the lives of two of his men and showed the world what it means to be a Marine.”

Two months lat­er, the Navy Depart­ment announced that it would name a guid­ed-mis­sile destroy­er in Dunham’s hon­or.

Des­ig­nat­ed DDG 109, the ship was chris­tened April 1, 2009, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The 9,200-ton, 509-foot­war­ship left for its new Fort Laud­erdale home port in ear­ly Octo­ber.

In the lead-up to tomorrow’s cer­e­mo­ny, crew mem­bers have been con­duct­ing com­mu­ni­ty out­reach projects through­out the South Flori­da com­mu­ni­ty, and mem­bers of Major League Baseball’s Flori­da Mar­lins toured the ship Nov. 9.

Tonight, the Nation­al Hock­ey League’s Flori­da Pan­thers will host the crew as the team takes on the Min­neso­ta Wild in Sun­rise, Fla. In addi­tion to being present for the cer­e­mo­ni­al puck drop, the sailors will be rec­og­nized from their seats at BankAt­lantic Cen­ter dur­ing the game’s sec­ond peri­od, Sun­rise Ports and Enter­tain­ment offi­cials announced.

The Navy’s 59th Arleigh Burke-class destroy­er, USS Jason Dun­ham will be able to oper­ate inde­pen­dent­ly or as part of car­ri­er strike groups, sur­face action groups, amphibi­ous ready groups and under­way replen­ish­ment groups, Navy offi­cials said. It is equipped with the Aegis com­bat sys­tem, ver­ti­cal launch­ing sys­tem, advanced anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare sys­tem, advanced anti-air­craft mis­siles and Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­siles.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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