ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Three New Mexico Marines are thankful to still be alive. Their story of survival is now being shared in a new documentary film. It takes you through their time serving in Iraq, and the Marine that saved their lives.
It’s a day they’ll never forget. In April 2004, the men of Kilo Company 3rd Battalion 7th Marines were ambushed in Iraq.
Corporal Jason Dunham was at the head of the unit. The car they approached was full of guns and ammunition.
Dunham got into a fight with a man in the car.
“Jason was on top of him and he said, ‘No, no, no! Watch his hand,’ and the grenade went off,” said Sgt. William B. Hampton.
Corporal Dunham jumped on top of the grenade, saving the lives of his unit, including three men from New Mexico. Their story is now being shared in a new documentary film, called “The Gift.”
It recognizes Dunham’s sacrifice, and the guilt his fellow Marines now live with.
“It took a long time to realize he was never going to come back,” said Sgt. John Covarrubias.
Covarrubias, along with James Castaneda and Alfonso Sifuentes, are the men from New Mexico; at one point, all officers with Farmington Police. Sifuentes is still with the department.
“If he never told me to get back on the truck, I would have been the guy in the front,” said Sgt. James Castaneda.
In the film, the men share their grief and guilt as they stay on their mission to continue living for their fallen friend.
“We have a duty to our families, we have our duty to our kids, and I think that’s how we can honor what Jason gave us,” said Sifuentes.
Jason Dunham was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. An INDIEGOGO page has been set up to help raise funds for the film. Once that is covered, the profits will go to a non-profit for combat veterans.