The USS JASON DUNHAM was commissioned on November 13, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale Fla. This ship was built by Bath Iron Works, in Bath Maine. Whiting Custom Laminated Panels supplied panels for this new naval vessel named in honor of a local WNY native, Jason Dunham.
On April 14, 2004, 3 days after Easter Sunday, Corporal Dunham was manning a checkpoint in Karabilah, Iraq, when an insurgent leapt from his car and began choking Corporal Dunham. A scuffle ensued as two Marines approached to help.
Reportedly, the last words from Corporal Dunham were, "No, No. Watch his hand." Suddenly, the insurgent dropped a grenade. Corporal Dunham took off his Kevlar helmet, dropped to the ground, and covered the explosive as best he could.
The blast seriously wounded all 3 Marines. Eight days later, Corporal Jason L. Dunham died at Bethesda Naval Hospital from wounds he received in the incident. He was 22.
After a week of ceremonies and observances involving the new crew, the Navy will commissioned the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Jason Dunham Saturday at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The new destroyer honors Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, an Allegany county native of Scio, and the first Marine awarded the Medal of Honor for Operation Iraqi Freedom. His parents Debra and Daniel Dunham were in Florida for a week of events leading up to the formal commissioning ceremony.
Debra Dunham served as sponsor of the ship named for her late son. The ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she gave the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!
Designated DDG 109, Jason Dunham, the 59th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. The USS Jason Dunham will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power."
USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109)
Guided Missile Destroyer
Overall Length: 510 ft.
Waterline Length: 471 ft.
Extreme Beam: 66 ft.
Waterline Beam: 59 ft.
Light Displacement: 6,600 tons
Full Displacement: 9,200 tons
Dead Weight: 2,600 tons
Hull Material: Steel hull, steel superstructure
Number of Propellers: 2
Propulsion Type: Gas Turbines
Aegis Class Weapons System
Accommodations: Officers: 32, Enlisted: 348
Three United States Quarters to represent:
- Year Cpl Jason Dunham was born (1981)
- State of New York (2001)-Cpl Jason Dunham's home State
- Year Cpl Jason Dunham earned the Medal of Honor (2004)
To honor Marine Jason Dunham, the following items are enshrined in the mast of the ship that bears his name.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Coin, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Coin, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Coin, 7th Marines Regiment Unit Coin, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines Guidon, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines Unit Coin, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines OIF II Campaign Coin, Purple Heart Medal, Scrap of Cpl Jason Dunham's Kevlar helmet, Dog tag set, Cpl Jason Dunham, USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) Command Coin, USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) Mast Stepping Program, Last letter sent home from Cpl Dunham to Mom.
Legend has it that in the times of the ancient Greeks, enough money was placed in the mast to make sure that each of the crew could afford the trip into the afterlife should the ship sink. The U.S. Navy, steeped in customs and traditions, continues the ritual to this day, with symbolic aspects of the ship's heritage forever welded in the iron masts of today's warships.
The coin denominations sum is 109 and represents the ship's hull number.
Two United States Dimes to represent the Marines he valiantly saved:
- PFC Kelly Miller's Year of Birth (1983)
- LCpl William Hampton's Year of Birth (1982)
Two United States Nickels to represent:
- Year 7th Marine Regiment formed (1917)
- Year Cpl Jason Dunham entered the USMC (2000)
Four United States Pennies for each year of service in USMC: 2001 - 2004