USS Rafael Peralta: Celebrating the ship and the hero behind the name

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The naval destroyer USS Rafael Peralta is every bit of a die-hard defender of our nation just as the man whose name adorns its sides.

Peralta was a marine who, in 2004, found himself in the middle of Iraq in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Fallujah.

Born in Mexico City, Raphael Peralta’s parents moved him and his two sisters and brother to Paradise Hills in San Diego. As the oldest boy, Rafael took on a lot of family responsibility when his father died in a work-related accident.

After graduating from Morse High School in 1997, Rafael enrolled at San Diego City College and joined the California Conservation Corps.

In 2000, he received his green card and immediately joined the Marine Corps. Soon after he would earn his U.S. citizenship.

Related Link: City Council proclaims “Sgt. Peralta Day” in San Diego

In 2004, Peralta was deployed to Iraq where he was assigned to A Company 1st battalion, 3rd regiment. Rafael was in charge of leading his team of Marines on missions to search out and clear buildings from insurgents.  As scout leader, he wasn’t required to go in himself, but he regularly did.

On November 15th, upon entering a room Peralta was met by enemy fire. As he lay on the floor severely wounded, insurgents fled the scene, tossing a grenade next to his head. Peralta grabbed the grenade and immediately dragged it under his own body to absorb the explosion.

The 25-year-old hero was killed instantly, but his act saved the lives of his fellow marines.

In 2004, legislation was introduced t award Peralta our nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor.

Instead the second highest was given, the Navy Cross.

In 2015, Peralta’s mother, Rosa, accepted the Navy Cross on her son’s behalf, but a new effort in now being led by California Representative, Duncan D. Hunter, that may one day bring an upgrade from the Navy Cross to the Medal of Honor.

Categories: Local San Diego News