HOW WILL WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The Gift is the story of Medal of Honor recipient, Corporal Jason L. Dunham and the Marines of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. It is a story of courage, sacrifice, and love.
How will we live... how will we make a difference?
These are the questions the Marines of Kilo Company ask themselves, as they search for a purpose and gather the strength to move forward with their lives.
The story is told through present day interviews with the Dunham family as well as the Marines who served alongside Corporal Dunham, including Kelly Miller and Bill Hampton whose lives he saved.
The film focuses on how the events of April 14, 2004, have affected the Marines of Kilo Company over the past 18-years… drug and alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and in some cases, suicide.
Our story culminates in the small town of Scio in Western New York, as the Marines of Kilo Company come together for a reunion at the Dunham Family home to pay their respects, and find closure from the event that changed their lives forever.
MEDAL OF HONOR
CORPORAL DUNHAM'S CITATION
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west.
Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander's convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
14 APRIL 2004 - HUSAYBAH, WESTERN IRAQ
LtCol Matthew Lopez, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, is conducting a meeting with local Iraqi officials in the city of Husaybah. Corporal Jason Dunham and his squad provide security outside.
The meeting wraps up. LtCol Lopez and his convoy head south, towards Camp Husaybah. As they pass through the Husaybah-Karabilah Triangle, they are ambushed by insurgents.
Corporal Dunham and his squad hear the explosions and rush towards the ambush site. While on route they take RPG fire. Corporal Dunham quickly stops the HUMVs and they take cover. Dunham notices increased traffic coming from the west; it could be insurgents attempting to escape.
Staff Sergeant Ferguson orders Dunham’s squad to conduct hasty vehicle searches. Corporal Dunham spots something in the third vehicle, a white SUV that raises his suspicion. Bypassing the first two vehicles, he beelines for the SUV. Private First Class Kelly Miller and Lance Corporal Bill Hampton follow him.
Miller comes up along the passenger side and spots RPGs and AK 47s in the backseat. As Corporal Dunham approaches the driver, he leaps from the vehicle and starts choking Him. Dunham knees the man in the chest and takes him to the ground. Miller and Hampton rush in to help.
Miller extends his police baton and strikes the insurgent in the forehead, while Hampton looks for a clear shot. The insurgent continues to struggle with Corporal Dunham, as Miller lands a knee into the man’s ribs and presses down on his throat with the baton.
Miller places his left hand on Corporal Dunham’s back to keep his balance. Dunham sees something and shouts, “No, no, watch his hand!”
The insurgent rolls out a live grenade.
Miller and Hampton, unaware of the grenade, notice Corporal Dunham has his Kevlar helmet on the ground. Dunham holds it in place and lays on top of it as the grenade explodes, blowing Hampton and Miller to the other side of the street.
Staff Sergeant Ferguson orders his radio operator, Lance Corporal Jason Sanders to… “Go help my Marines.”
Without hesitation, Lance Corporal Sanders runs to Corporal Dunham, who is severely wounded. As Sanders grabs Dunham by the back of his Flak jacket, the wounded insurgent stands up and tries to flee. Sanders lets go of Dunham, raises his rifle and fires… killing the insurgent.
Once the threat is neutralized, Sanders drags Dunham out of the street, where a Navy Corpsman begins working on him.
Gunnery Sergeant Elia Fontecchio – who will later be killed in August 2004 – loads Dunham into a HUMV and drives him to the landing zone (LZ), where he is medevac’d to a field hospital in Al-Qa’im. Corporal Dunham is eventually airlifted to an Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, before being flown to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.
Deb and Dan Dunham meet their son at Bethesda Naval Hospital where doctors deliver the grim news that their son suffered a massive head injury, is on life-support, and that he will likely die.
Corporal Dunham completed a living will specifying that he does not want to be kept alive if he is on life-support. He also confided in his father before he went to Iraq, “If there’s no chance, don’t leave me like that.”
On 22 April 2004, with his parents and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee at his bedside, Corporal Jason L. Dunham dies. He is 22.
On 11 January 2007, Corporal Jason L. Dunham is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on 14 April 2004. A guided missile destroyer - the USS Jason Dunham - was named in his honor and christened in 2009.