b. 23/02/1920 East Carondelet, Illinois. d. 06/04/2009 Godfrey, Illinois.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 08/01/1945 Kaysersburg, France.
Dunham and his brother Ralph, who also joined the United States Army, grew up on a farm in Fosterburg, Illinois. He joined the Army from Brighton, Illinois in August 1940.
Dunham was a platoon leader in his unit. Dunham's unit became pinned down at the base of snow-covered Hill 616, a steep hill in Alsace-Lorraine near Kaysersberg, France on January 8, 1945. When Dunham was presented with the Medal of Honor, General Alexander Patch said as he placed the award around Dunham's neck that his actions in single-handedly destroying the machine gun nests saved the lives of 120 U.S. soldiers who had been pinned down.
For his injuries on that day, Dunham also received the Purple Heart. Shrapnel from his injuries remained in his body for the rest of his life, and Dunham was quoted as saying "The shrapnel in my leg is a reminder of the war we fought."
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. At about 1430 hours on 8 January 1945, during an attack on Hill 616, near Kayserberg, France, T/Sgt. Dunham single-handedly assaulted 3 enemy machine guns. Wearing a white robe made of a mattress cover, carrying 12 carbine magazines and with a dozen hand grenades snagged in his belt, suspenders, and buttonholes, T/Sgt. Dunham advanced in the attack up a snow-covered hill under fire from 2 machine guns and supporting riflemen. His platoon 35 yards behind him, T/Sgt. Dunham crawled 75 yards under heavy direct fire toward the timbered emplacement shielding the left machine gun. As he jumped to his feet 10 yards from the gun and charged forward, machine gun fire tore through his camouflage robe and a rifle bullet seared a 10-inch gash across his back sending him spinning 15 yards down hill into the snow. When the indomitable sergeant sprang to his feet to renew his 1-man assault, a German egg grenade landed beside him. He kicked it aside, and as it exploded 5 yards away, shot and killed the German machine gunner and assistant gunner. His carbine empty, he jumped into the emplacement and hauled out the third member of the gun crew by the collar. Although his back wound was causing him excruciating pain and blood was seeping through his white coat, T/Sgt. Dunham proceeded 50 yards through a storm of automatic and rifle fire to attack the second machine gun. Twenty-five yards from the emplacement he hurled 2 grenades, destroying the gun and its crew; then fired down into the supporting foxholes with his carbine dispatching and dispersing the enemy riflemen. Although his coat was so thoroughly blood-soaked that he was a conspicuous target against the white landscape, T/Sgt. Dunham again advanced ahead of his platoon in an assault on enemy positions farther up the hill. Coming under machinegun fire from 65 yards to his front, while rifle grenades exploded 10 yards from his position, he hit the ground and crawled forward. At 15 yards range, he jumped to his feet, staggered a few paces toward the timbered machinegun emplacement and killed the crew with hand grenades. An enemy rifleman fired at pointblank range, but missed him. After killing the rifleman, T/Sgt. Dunham drove others from their foxholes with grenades and carbine fire. Killing 9 Germans—wounding 7 and capturing 2—firing about 175 rounds of carbine ammunition, and expending 11 grenades, T/Sgt. Dunham, despite a painful wound, spearheaded a spectacular and successful diversionary attack.
BURIAL LOCATION: VALHALLA MEMORIAL PARK, GODFREY, ILLINOIS.
Section 2, Lot 88, Space 4