City Council proclaims today ‘Sgt. Peralta Day’ after Marine hero

 SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The City Council proclaimed it to be "Sgt. Peralta Day" Monday in San Diego in honor of Rafael Peralta, who was killed in action in 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq.

The recognition of the 1997 Morse High School graduate came five days before a ship bearing his name is commissioned by the Navy. 

Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in a firefight, in which he was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head before being killed by a grenade. A bid by Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Alpine, for Peralta to receive the Medal of Honor was rejected by defense officials amid questions of whether he consciously pulled the grenade under his body to save fellow Marines. 

Councilman David Alvarez said Peralta, born in 1979 in Mexico City, joined the Marines as soon as he was eligible and became a U.S. citizen. 

The guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta will carry the words "courageous to the end" as it sails around the world, the councilman said. 

"The ship and these words will ensure that the world always remember and be inspired by the sacrifice of Sergeant Peralta — a young man who couldn’t wait to join the Corps, to serve his country, a man who loved his family deeply, a man who put the welfare and lives of his fellow Marines above his own, a young man who was truly courageous to the end,” Alvarez said. 

Peralta’s mother, Rosa Maria, and sister, Icela, thanked the council members for the honor.

German Lira, command master chief of the destroyer, spoke on behalf of the crew. 

"Thank you for honoring such a great American hero in this way, in his hometown," Lira told the council members. "We’ll do everything possible to carry on that courageous spirit that Rafael Peralta has within him, for many years to come."

The commissioning ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado. On Thursday, the Navy will hold a naturalization ceremony in Peralta’s honor for 10 service members who represent nine countries. 

Categories: Local San Diego News