US Marine Sergeant Mark Dean of Owasso earned his medals during three tours of duty in Iraq.
One of his greatest honors was serving with Jason Dunham. â€œBest guy you'd ever meet in your entire life." President Bush: "And by giving his own life, Corporal Dunham saved the lives of two of his men and showed the world what it means to be a Marine."
Last week, President Bush announced that Corporal Jason Dunham would posthumously receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Dean was in the same fight that killed Dunham in Iraq back in 2004. While on patrol, Dean says Dunham was in a hand-to-hand fight with an insurgent. "They went down to the ground and that's when Cpl. Dunham said â€˜His hands, his handsâ€™, and that's when a grenade rolled out and instant reaction for Cpl. Dunham was take his Kevlar off and put it on top of the grenade and lay on it.â€
The blast shredded Dunham's helmet and several days later, he died. Only a few days earlier, Dean remembers commanders asking what to do if a live grenade was thrown at the Marines. â€œJason brought up the idea, do you think taking the helmet off and the Kevlar and putting it on top of it, you think that would work? It was already on his mind and he did it in a split second."
Dean says Dunham had a way of relaxing his fellow Marines, either by horsing around with them or flashing a smile. He was Dean's squad leader and so much more. â€œLike I've always told people, gift from God."
Sergeant Dean says Dunham's heroism saved several other Marines from shrapnel. One of the others nearby Marines, Dean says was Lance Corporal Jason Sanders of McAlester.