Years of appeals by the family of a fallen Marine killed in Iraq asking the Pentagon to approve the Marine Corps’ nomination for the Medal of Honor did not pay off with the fallen Marine being awarded the the nation’s highest award for military heroism. Instead, the Navy will posthumously award a Navy Cross to Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Although the Marine’s family believes he deserves the Medal of Honor, the family decided to accept the Navy Cross as the fight has taken a toll on Peralta’s mother. After reading the Navy Cross award citation below, do you think the Pentagon made a mistake denying Peralta the Medal of Honor?
Fallen Marine Deserves Medal of Honor
It is not only the family that feels Sgt. Rafael Peralta deserves to be honored with the nation’s highest award for covering a grenade on Nov. 15, 2004, in Fallujah, shielding his troops from the blast. California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Marine veteran who also served in Iraq, stood in the families corner as well.
“In my mind, Peralta should be a Medal of Honor recipient, but the Navy Cross is also a major valor award, and even though the fight to upgrade the award is sure to continue when the time is right, it’s great to see the Peralta family finally accepting the award,” Hunter said. “The distinction between the awards doesn’t change the fact that there are Marines alive today who say, without condition, that Rafael Peralta saved their lives.”
Marines Nominate Fallen Marine; Pentagon Denies Nomination
The Marine Corps nominated Peralta for the Medal of Honor posthumously, and it was approved by the Navy Department.
Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2008 said the evidence was inconclusive and awarded him the Navy Cross. The Navy and members of Congress asked the Pentagon to reconsider after new evidence surfaced, but the next two defense secretaries said it still did not meet the standard of proof required for a Medal of Honor.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who had recommended in 2012 the Medal of Honor be awarded to Peralta, will present the Navy Cross to the family.
The award’s citation reads: “While attempting to maneuver out of the line of fire, Sgt. Peralta was shot and fell mortally wounded. After the initial exchange of gunfire, the insurgents broke contact, throwing a fragmentation grenade as they fled the building. The grenade came to rest near Sgt. Peralta’s head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sgt. Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away.”
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