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USS Jason Dunham DDG109
By Sgt. Helen M. Searcy, USMC  
Special to American Forces Press Service

SCIO, N.Y., March 26, 2007 - The Navy honored Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham March 24 by naming a guided missile destroyer after the fallen Marine hero during a ceremony here.

Hundreds of students, teachers and veterans packed the gym of Scio Central High School as Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter announced that the name of the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer would honor the memory of the Marine Corps' most recent Medal of Honor recipient.

Dunham is the Marine Corps' first Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in Iraq on April 14, 2004, when he threw himself on top of a live grenade to save the lives of his fellow Marines. He died of his injuries eight days later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Winter made the announcement in Dunham's hometown, with Dunham's parents, Dan and Deb, and siblings in attendance.

"Dan and I are very excited and proud to accept the powerful tribute the Navy has honored Jason with," said an emotional Deb Dunham to the crowd. "We wish to thank the Navy for this historical honor you have given Jay by commemorating his actions and memory with a ship's title."

"There is a long tradition in the United States Navy of naming our war ships after heroes," Winter said. "The hero would no longer be with us, but his name would live on."

Winter said that when the time came to name the newest destroyer, he had no problem coming up with a fitting namesake.

"It seemed appropriate, when the time came to name DDG 109, that we name that great ship after our newest Medal of Honor recipient," he said. "This is the first time we've had a chance to recognize a Marine from this generation, and particularly a Marine who served so well and sacrificed his life on behalf of our nation in the global war on terror."

In the spirit of this Marine, the USS Jason Dunham will continue protecting America's liberty by providing a multi-mission maritime platform to lead the Navy into the future.

Utilizing a gas turbine propulsion system, the ship can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups. The ship's combat systems center on the Aegis combat system and the SPY-Ld (V) multifunction phased array radar.

With the combination of Aegis, the vertical launching system, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles, the Arleigh Burke-class continues the revolution at sea.

The Navy currently has six destroyers named after Marine Medal of Honor recipients. Winter said he expects the USS Jason Dunham to serve the fleet well for many years to come.

"I fully expect that this ship will be in the fleet for 30, 40 years, or maybe even more," he said.

The USS Jason Dunham will be christened in 2009 and commissioned in 2010.

Destroyer facts

DDG Description
These fast warships provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.

Destroyers and guided missile destroyers operate in support of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups. Destroyers primarily perform anti-submarine warfare duty while guided missile destroyers are multi-mission [Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)] surface combatants. The addition of the Mk-41 Vertical Launch System or Tomahawk Armored Box Launchers (ABLs) to many Spruance-class destroyers has greatly expanded the role of the destroyer in strike warfare.

Technological advances have improved the capability of modern destroyers culminating in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class. Named for the Navy's most famous destroyer squadron combat commander and three-time Chief of Naval Operations, the Arleigh Burke was commissioned July 4, 1991, and was the most powerful surface combatant ever put to sea. Like the larger Ticonderoga-class cruisers, DDG 51's combat systems center around the Aegis combat system and the SPY-lD, multi-function phased array radar. The combination of Aegis, the Vertical Launching System, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and Tomahawk, the Burke-class continues the revolution at sea.

The DDG 51 class incorporates all-steel construction. In 1975, the cruiser USS Belknap (CG 26) collided with USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). Belknap suffered severe damage and casualties because of her aluminum superstructure. On the basis of that event, the decision was made that all future surface combatants would return to a steel superstructure. And, like most modern U.S. surface combatants, DDG 51 utilizes gas turbine propulsion. These ships replaced the older Charles F. Adams and Farragut-class guided missile destroyers.

Point Of Contact
Public Affairs Office
Naval Sea Systems Command (OOD)
Washington, DC 20362

General Characteristics, Arleigh Burke class
Builder: Bath Iron Works, Ingalls Shipbuilding.
SPY-1 Radar and Combat System Integrator: Lockheed Martin
Date Deployed: July 4, 1991 (USS Arleigh Burke)
Propulsion: Four General Electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; two shafts, 100,000 total shaft horsepower. Length: Flights I and II (DDG 51-78): 505 feet (153.92 meters)
Flight IIA (DDG 79-98): 509½ feet (155.29 meters).
Beam: 59 feet (18 meters).
Displacement: Hulls 51 through 71: 8,315 tons (8,448.04 metric tons) full load
Hulls 72 through 78: 8,400 tons (8,534.4 metric tons) full load
Hulls 79 and on: 9,200 tons (9,347.2 metric tons) full load.
Speed: in excess of 30 knots.
Crew: 23 officers, 300 enlisted.
Armament: Standard missile; Harpoon; Vertical Launch ASROC (VLA) missiles; Tomahawk®; six Mk-46 torpedoes (from two triple tube mounts); one 5
Aircraft: LAMPS III electronics installed on landing deck for coordinated DDG 51/helo ASW operations (DDG 51-78). Two SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters (DDG 79-105)