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Funeral Services for Iraqi War Hero

By Associated Press

Scio, NY – Cpl. Jason Dunham was supervising a checkpoint in Iraq when he saw a man pull up, jump from a vehicle and run away. Dunham chased the man down and tackled him.

Other Marines had closed in to help when the man pulled a pin from a hand grenade.

Dunham dove onto the grenade, shielding the others from the blast. He died from the wounds he suffered April 14.

More than 500 Marines gathered in Iraq to remember and honor the 22-year-old squadron leader and machine gunner from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, Kilo Company.

In his hometown, people packed the place Dunham loved the most _ his school gymnasium. His casket was underneath a basketball hoop, where his father said he loved to be.

Though the story of Dunham's heroism had been told all over town, it still drew forth tears when Rev. Ron Sellers told it again in the gym. So did the words of America the Beautiful: "for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life." Young men and women in uniforms and friends stood out amongst more than 1,500 people at Dunham's funeral, 70 miles southeast of Buffalo. Two of Dunham's friends, Justin Lambert and Kyle Young, delivered tributes.

"I want everyone to remember the good times we had with Jason," Lambert said. "He never judged anyone and he never judged the people over there. He was just doing his job. He's going to be missed."

Young recalled Jason hitting a home run in a varsity baseball game his senior year in high school.

"No one could hit the ball the last 20 or 30 feet to put it over the fence," he said. "Jason did, and in the middle of a game he was catching for, he got up and told us had hit one over the fence and almost onto the tennis court 20 feet beyond. He was just that kind of guy, always trying to do his best."

As a long procession of cars and walkers accompanied the casket to the nearby cemetery, Scio residents sat on their porches and children lined the sidewalk. A giant American flag was draped above the highway as the hearse approached and state troopers stopped traffic.

Under cloudy skies, a contingent of nearly 20 U.S. Marines from the Marine Corps Reserves in Buffalo, N.Y., led the ceremony at the cemetery.

Hundreds of people watched and listened as military members played Taps and fired their guns. Eight granite-faced Marines slowly and meticulously folded the flag that covered the coffin and stood at attention while their commander presented it with a salute to Dunham's parents, Debra and Dan Dunham.

The Dunhams, carrying the tri-folded flag that had draped their eldest son's coffin, and their younger children, Justin, Kyle and Katelyn, were escorted by the Marines to an awaiting car.

"The Marine Corps have really showed us how much this means to them," Dan Dunham said. "They've been very good to us."