The following story chronicles the ultimate sacrifice made by Sgt. Rafael Peralta, while in service to his country. Sgt. Peralta is a true American hero.
by Sgt. Priscilla Sneden
The then insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq, faced a Marine Corps led assault in November 2004. When the dust settled, a new generation of heroes rose from the ashes, setting the precedence for the next generation of Marines. Unfortunately, like every operation of its nature, it cost lives.
Sgt. Rafael Peralta was one of them.
Sgt. Rafael Peralta in an undated photo
While clearing houses Nov. 15, Peralta and his fire team entered a house where the enemy silently awaited. They cleared the courtyard and the first room before Peralta led them into the second one. He opened the door and was barraged with enemy fire, knocking him to the ground. During the firefight that ensued, the insurgents tossed a grenade at the rest of the fire team. The accounts from the Marines present state Peralta pulled the grenade into his body, absorbing the blast and thus saving their lives.
For his actions in those final moments of his life, the Mexico City native was recommended for the Medal of Honor by the Marine Corps and Department of the Navy.
However, it was announced in September 2008 that Peralta would posthumously receive a Navy Cross vice a Medal of Honor. A board convened by Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioned whether Peralta could knowingly pull the grenade under him after being mortally wounded.
Hundreds of Marines, including those who served with him, were outraged upon hearing the decision. Whether he did it in his final moments of consciousness or not, he shielded his Marines from potentially fatal wounds. And they testified to that.
Read more at: Marines Blog