Medal of Honor Winner

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This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 13, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, President Bush has announced he'll award Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, the nation's highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

On April 14th, 2004, the 22-year-old jumped on a grenade in Iraq, saving at least two other Marines from grievous injury. Corporal Dunham himself was critically wounded and died eight days later.

With us now are the corporal's parents, Debra and Daniel Dunham.

Ms. Dunham, we'll begin with you. Why did Jason sign up?

DEBRA DUNHAM, MOTHER OF CPL. JASON DUNHAM: We have four children. And I teach school. Dan works at a factory. And having four children, we couldn't afford to pay for all four kids to go to college full shot.

Jason knew that the G.I. Bill would be beneficial. And we had talk about several different things. And he chose to join the Marines, knowing he'd get a good education...


DEBRA DUNHAM: ...knowing he would get good training. And he would be able to use the G.I. Bill.

O'REILLY: When he got through basic training, never an easy thing, down in Quantico, Virginia.


O'REILLY: Very difficult. You must have been proud of him. How did he see his service? Was he happy with it?

DEBRA DUNHAM: Yes, very. He was very proud to wear the uniform of a Marine. The Marines he served with and the Marines that worked with are — were something he was very, very, very proud of.

O'REILLY: And when he was deployed to Iraq, was he happy to go?

DEBRA DUNHAM: I think he was nervous, but Jason felt that there was a job to be done. And that if it wasn't taken care of there, that we would be fighting it here. And it was his job. And he looked at this as a job.


Now Mr. Dunham, how do you cope with a loss like that? I mean, he's your son and you're proud of him and he's a hero. How do you cope with it?

DANIEL DUNHAM, FATHER OF CPL. JASON DUNHAM: I don't think you ever do, totally. We tried to do our normal day things that we did before. We have three other children, so we try to do the things we do with them. Me and Debra are very close.

O'REILLY: So it's a close-knit family?


O'REILLY: How old are the other children?

DANIEL DUNHAM: I have a 24-year-old, one that will be 18 in a couple months, and one that will be 14 next month.

O'REILLY: Oh, and the 14-year-old, I mean, that's a very tender age.

DANIEL DUNHAM: She's my daughter.

O'REILLY: Right.

DANIEL DUNHAM: She's the only girl.

O'REILLY: And how did you deal with...

DANIEL DUNHAM: She's still having difficulty with it, but we explain to her that the things going on especially now are good for Jason. And I don't know, it's hard.


DANIEL DUNHAM: As a parent, you do what you can do.

O'REILLY: Now you're not a political family. You guys aren't demonstrating or you're not involved in that at all.


O'REILLY: And when John Kerry said that statement the other day about he'd wind up in Iraq, did it hit a chord with you at all?

DANIEL DUNHAM: It did me. I felt it wasn't right. But Jason died so people could have the freedom of their speech.

O'REILLY: Absolutely, there's no question.

DANIEL DUNHAM: And so, he has a right to say what he wants.

O'REILLY: And he also died to save his fellow Marines.


O'REILLY: I mean, you know, think about that.

DANIEL DUNHAM: And like I said before, sometimes it's just not about war and politics. It's about friendship. It's about the closeness of the Marines and their brotherhood. It's about putting your life before somebody else's life.

O'REILLY: Absolutely. There's no question about it.

Now when the president gives you, Ms. Dunham, this will be the only second one, the second Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to a combat person in Iraq. Do you have — are you prepared for the emotion of that moment? Because that's going to be something.

DEBRA DUNHAM: No, I don't think so. I'm very proud of Jason. And I wish he were here to be doing this, to accept this himself.

The point that I see with this is we're accepting on Jason's behalf because he's not here to do that, but this is also a symbol publicly of what he is doing. But it's also a symbol of what all of the service personnel are doing. — Whether it's a small, individual private moment that they're helping somebody out, or whether it's an act of valor that is publicly noticed.

O'REILLY: Right. I mean, courage, self-sacrifice for other people who they don't even know — I mean, Iraqis, we don't know them...


O'REILLY: ...trying to fight for their freedom. And to give up your life for your brother, your fellow Marine officer.

But I mean, it's an amazing achievement. It's something that you'll have forever. And I hope your 14-year-old, Mr. Dunham, understands, you know, how rare this is and how, you know, that's your son's legacy, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

DANIEL DUNHAM: Yes. And we've tried to explain that to her. And I think she's understanding.

O'REILLY: Yes. And she will when you have it. You know, so anyway we honor your son and we appreciate your sacrifice. And thank you for coming in, both of you.


DEBRA DUNHAM: Thank you.

O'REILLY: All right, it was very nice to meet you and talk to you.

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