Fallen Soldier: Jason D. Cunningham

Jason D. Cunningham
Dates: Died March 4, 2002
Hometown: Camarillo, CA
Branch of Service: Air Force
Rank: Senior Airman
Player: Zach Pollo

Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham, 26, of Camarillo, Calif., was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and served during Operation Enduring Freedom. On March 4, 2002, SrA. Cunningham was on board one of two MH-47E Chinooks on his first combat mission to rescue a combat controller and a SEAL. Upon arriving, their aircraft was heavily hit and took a hard landing. SrA. Cunningham quickly tended to the wounded soldiers, crossing the line of fire seven times, moving his patients to safety. While tending to his patients, he was fatally wounded but continued to treat his men for the next seven hours, as well as passing along vital information about conditions until he lost consciousness.

SrA. Cunningham was the first pararescue jumper to die in combat since the Vietnam War. He saved ten lives that day. Cunningham was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, only the second awarded since Vietnam. "He spent his whole life preparing for that one moment," Maj. Savino said. "He was a great man. I know several soldiers who are alive today because of him.”

One of SrA. Cunningham’s daughters is a Folds of Honor Scholarship recipient.