Navy's Newest Destroyer USS Jason Dunham Enters the Fleet

Published Jan 27, 2011 9:13 AM by The Maritime Executive

Under blue skies and the Florida sun, the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke Class Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer the USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) was commissioned today in Port Everglades, entering full status as a ship of the United States Navy.

Deb Dunham, ship sponsor and mother of Marine Corps Corporal Jason Dunham, stood on deck as she gave the command to “Man the Ship and Bring Her to Life!” Dan Dunham, father of Corporal Dunham, set the first watch and passed the long glass to LTJG Andrew Gray. The watch, which will now continue for the entire period of time the ship is in service, will ensure the safety and security of the ship and its crew.

Six weeks earlier, Deb and Dan stood on the bridge of the ship on a cloudy overcast day as it left Bath Iron Works, Maine where the ship was constructed to begin its journey to Port Everglades. Today the ship and her crew stand ready to continue to fulfill Corporal Jason Dunham’s mission of protecting the United States.

Keynote speaker General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, stated “Dan and Deb Dunham, none of this would have been possible without you. You have borne the heaviest burden – the sacrifice of a son. But Jason’s actions will not be forgotten. Your son – honored through this ship – stands together with the greatest men and women in our Nation’s history. Thank you for all you have given and all you continue to give. You embody all that is great in our American Family.”

Under Secretary of the Navy, Robert Work, placed the USS Jason Dunham into service and Commander Scott Sciretta assumed command of the ship.

Corporal Jason L. Dunham, 22, of Scio, N.Y. selflessly sacrificed his life in Iraq on April 14, 2004. Corporal Dunham was attacked by an insurgent and while the two wrestled, the assailant released a grenade. Corporal Dunham jumped on the grenade, covering it with his body and Kevlar helmet. His spontaneous action saved the lives of two fellow Marines. Dunham was mortally wounded from the blast and died eight days later at Bethesda Naval Hospital. President George W. Bush posthumously awarded Corporal Dunham the Medal of Honor. He was the first Marine Medal of Honor recipient for Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first Marine to receive the medal since the Vietnam War.