Throwing yourself on a grenade. This idea has become a cultural and mythological cliché, akin to the idea of a cowboy showdown at high noon. Something that maybe happened once or twice, but has been so exaggerated in pop culture as to have entered the realm of myth. Except this near-mythical heroic sacrifice is real.

Congress has awarded three Medals of Honor during the Iraq War. One went to Corporal Jason Dunham, Company K, 3rd Battalion 7th Marines. On April 14, 2004, Dunham’s squad conducted a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah. Some distance away, he heard explosions, and the corporal led his team to provide fire assistance to their commander’s ambushed convoy. Dunham and his team dismounted from their vehicles and sneaked up on an Iraqi convoy near the ambush.

Suddenly, a Taliban fighter attacked Dunham. Dunham wrestled the terrorist to the ground, but the terrorist tossed a grenade toward two of Dunham’s squad mates. Dunham knew they wouldn’t have time to escape so, without hesitation, he dove on the grenade, covering it with his helmet and body. He died hours later, and saved several lives.

We honor you, Jason Dunham.

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