Sunday, August 2, 2009
A Befitting Honor and Legacy
Today I sat in my comfortable recliner reading the Sunday paper, free to bitch about recent current events without any repercussions and enjoying my first amendment right. How lucky we are to be able to speak our minds freely, to protest against what ever we don't agree with.
What caught my eye was a picture of an Arleigh Burke class destroyer. Those were being introduced into the fleet prior to me leaving the U.S. Navy. The first of this ship class, the U.S.S. Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) was commissioned into service on July 4, 1991. They were and are a BAD ASS fighting ship!
What brought me to this thought was an article which I read. The article was about the U.S. Navy's newest Arleigh Burke class destroyer being christened. Nothing really special, I guess to most. What caught my eye was the name given to this fighting ship.
The name of this Navy Destroyer is the U.S.S. Jason Dunham (DDG 109). Jason Dunham was the subject of a book I had read back in 2005 written by Michael M. Phillips entitled "The Gift of Valor - A War Story". Jason Dunham's mother, Debra Dunham christened the destroyer named for her son.
So what's in a name? Every Navy ship has a history behind it's name. Especially those named after people. Yeah everybody knows who the U.S.S. Eisenhower, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, or U.S.S. Truman are named after (at least I would hope so).
How about the names of whom were not as famous, but their personal sacrifice was just as much if not more than the famous names in our history.
Names such as;
Pfc. Oscar P. Austin USMC
Chief Engineman Donald L. McFaul USN
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Edward C. Benfold USN
GYSGT. Jimmie E. Howard USMC
Navy Cook 1st Class William Pinckney USN
Chief Warrant Officer Donald K. Ross USN
Steel Worker 2nd Class (Diver) Robert D. Stethem USN
The Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers bear these names as well as many others in honor and remembrance to their bravery of thinking of others before themselves.
To most, me included these were names I had never heard of before, with the exception of Robert D. Stethem whom I remembered being tortured, then murdered by terrorists who had hijacked a commercial airliner and then just dumped his body on the tarmac. Petty Officer Stethem was returning home after an assignment in Greece.
So who was Jason Dunham. He was a son, a brother, he was a United States Marine. He sacrificed his young life for the ideals and morals he was raised with. He gave up his future to keep the fight against the global war on terrorism on their soil, not ours. He was a Marine that voluntarily extended his enlistment to remain with his platoon, to see that every man under his responsibility made it back home.
They all made it back home, because while fighting an Iraqi insurgent hand to hand, Cpl. Dunham saw him drop a grenade. There was no hesitation in his actions as he covered the grenade with his helmet and body to bear the brunt of the explosion to shield his buddies. Jason Dunham gave his life so that his men, his friends, his brothers in arms would be able to go home.
Too many people take their freedom for granted and those whom have made the ultimate sacrifice all too often fade away as the years go by. Let us not forget those who have guaranteed our way of life. And if you're interested, take a look at CMOHS.ORG - Congressional Medal of Honor Society.