Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own", and the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Caisson Platoon conducted military funeral honors with funeral escort for U.S. Army Master Sgt. Jose Gonzalez in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, Sept. 11, 2019 (U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser)

Army Pfc. Robert Fletcher restarted his life in Ann Arbor after the Korean War, the trauma of combat and captivity never far from his mind. He'd survived nearly three years of extreme hunger, freezing temperatures and psychological abuse as a prisoner of war in Camp No. 5 along the banks of the Yalu River that divides China and North Korea.

Back home, Fletcher's harrowing experience manifested itself as a myriad of health problems and severe PTSD that cropped up daily until his death at age 85. And so it shocked his family to learn he wouldn't be afforded full military honors when laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in 2018.

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More than 15 years ago, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham gave his life to save his fellow Marines on the streets of Husaybah, Iraq when he leaped upon a grenade. In 2007, he became the first Marine since the Vietnam War to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

In the years since his death, his story of courage and sacrifice has been told and re-told. His Medal of Honor citation is read to Marine recruits during the Crucible at boot camp. And his name adorns the USS Jason Dunham, where his dress blue uniform rests in a clear display case on the quarterdeck, a solemn shrine to a young man who gave his life for his brothers in arms.

Now, Marines who served with Dunham are sharing his story in their own words, and a small group of military veterans and film makers are helping them do it as part of The Gift, a crowd-funded documentary film chronicling his life, and legacy.

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The Medal of Honor (U.S. Navy photo)

A pair of Texas congressmen have introduced legislation to the House to create a monument "to honor the valiant service" of Medal of Honor recipients in Washington, D.C.

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My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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On April 14, 2004, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham saved the lives of his fellow Marines when he jumped on top of an enemy grenade and shielded them from the blast.

Dunham succumbed to his wounds eight days later, and later became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. He was born on Nov. 10, 1981 — the Marine Corps Birthday. Today, he would have turned 38.

Born in Scio, New York, Dunham joined the Marine Corps in July 2000, where he was first assigned to guard the naval submarine base in Kings Bay, Ga. In 2003, he was transferred to the 29 Palms, California-based 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine regiment, and deployed to Iraq in 2004.

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