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Effort underway to name VA clinic after Dunn

BY ANTHONY A. MESTAS

THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

In a July 2000 news obituary, family members of James Dunn said he never stood taller than when the American flag was being raised.

Dunn, a Marine who was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism on Guadalcanal in 1943, grew slightly stooped with age but always stood tall when he led the Pledge of Allegiance at the SRDA senior center, the article said.

With congressional approval, Dunn’s name will forever be linked to veterans in Pueblo.

The United Veterans Committee of Colorado has delivered a letter to Congress recommending the new U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical clinic in Pueblo be named after Dunn, based on the recommendations of a naming committee led by state Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo.

Congress has the final decision on the naming of the clinic at 4776 Eagleridge Circle.

The letter recommending Dunn said he was serving on Guadalcanal Island when he assumed command of his platoon after coming under heavy fire from the enemy and his platoon commander was severely wounded.

He led fellow Marines to safety while extracting his platoon C\\commander, even after being ordered not to.

Garcia said in going through the names of many heroes, the committee concluded that the veteran that best met the criteria as outlined by Congress for this new Veterans Affairs clinic to be named after was Dunn, a World War II veteran.

“The Navy Cross is the second-highest award a Marine could receive,” Garcia said Thursday.

Garcia, also a Marine, said he was honored to chair the committee.

“To hear the great stories of all these service members was incredible. Some were ineligible by criteria, but that didn’t stop our committee from reading their information and just reflecting a little bit on their stories,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the committee received a large number of qualified applicants.

Garcia said Dunn’s bravery and courage under fire perfectly symbolize the resilient spirit of Pueblo.

“For me, it’s great that a Puebloan was chosen by unanimous decision. Mr. Dunn stands out above all. His criteria was exemplary.”

Garcia said when Dunn was asked why he enlisted in the Marine Corps years ago, he simply said, “Uncle Sam needed me.”

Dunn died July 5, 2000, in Pueblo after a brief illness. He was 78 years old, and among his many accomplishments was more than 10 years of service as a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

Dunn retired from the CF&I Steel Corp. combustion department after 40 years of employment. He was a member of the Pueblo Country Club, the Scottish and York rites of Freemasonry and was a life member of Pueblo Elks Lodge 90. In 1972, he was master of South Pueblo Lodge 31, AF&AM, and in 1985 he was grand master of the Grand Lodge of Colorado, AF&AM. anthonym@chieftain.com

Leroy Garcia

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