Special Report: The push for Sgt. Rafael Peralta to be awarded the Medal of Honor

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) —Efforts have been renewed to award a marine sergeant the congressional Medal of Honor as the Navy prepares to commission a ship named in his honor.

A wounded marine is in obvious agony as he and his squad leader, San Diego native Sgt. Rafael Peralta conduct house to house searches in Fallujah, Iraq. When suddenly the sounds of explosions where Peralta’s show of courage was caught on tape.

Sgt. Peralta’s squad is ambushed by insurgents, he is hit in the head, not by the enemy, but by his own men. A case of accidental friendly fire. But his fellow marines say when a grenade is tossed their way seconds later, Peralta reaches out and pulls it into his body absorbing the explosion and saving the lives of his fellow marines. Which is why they say he deserves the Medal of Honor.

Almost thirteen years after that day, the Pentagon sees things differently. Awarding Peralta the Navy Cross instead, saying because he had been hit in the head, he did not have the presence of mind to pounce on the grenade.

The Pentagon also say the grenade actually exploded six to eight feet from Peralta.

But in death, Sgt. Peralta has another fellow marine fighting for him as in former marine, Iraq War veteran and local congressman Duncan Hunter who has been battling for years to win the Medal of Honor for Peralta.

Hunter’s staff has uncovered powerful evidence raising disturbing questions about the Pentagon’s decision to deny the nation’s highest medal of valor to Peralta.  Evidence, for instance, that a piece of the grenade fuse was recovered from Peralta’s flak jacket, proving the grenade did not detonate feet away from his body.

And why has Peralta and his family perhaps been done wrong? Hunter says it’s a case of bureaucrats who have never been in combat or experienced the fog of war making decisions about what constitutes courage. 

That incensed Hunter so much he basically told the Navy to name a ship after Peralta, writing to secretary of the navy Ray Mabus "Naming the last ship in the Lewis and Clark-class after anyone other than hometown hero Raphael Peralta misses a valuable opportunity to honor the service and sacrifice of a U.S. Marine who was wrongfully denied the Medal of Honor."

Now that Sgt. Raphael Peralta will soon have a ship officially named in his honor, the hope is that soon he will have a navy ship and not a navy cross, but instead a Medal of Honor.

Categories: Local San Diego News, Special Reports