September 18, 2008, - 9:48 pm

For G-d’s Sake, Give This Deceased American Hero His Medal!

By Debbie Schlussel
Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta is a role model for all Americans, whether they are immigrants like him or native born. He made the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life to save those of his fellow Marines.
Sadly, nitpickers in our military are denying him and his grieving family the Medal of Honor. It’s a travesty. This late patriot deserves the honor. He earned it in blood and gutted limbs.
This is the kind of one-time illegal alien I wish we had more of in America. His story makes me proud to be an American, while at the same time it is heartbreaking:


Rest In Peace: Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta

Deserves the Medal of Honor

An immigrant from Mexico, Rafael Peralta enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after he received his green card in 2000. He adorned his bedroom at his parents’ home in San Diego with copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and a picture of his boot camp graduation class.
And as he waited for combat in Fallouja, he wrote to his teenage brother: “You should be proud of being an American. Our father came to this country because it was the right place for our family to be. If anything happens to me, just remember I’ve already lived my life to the fullest.”
On Nov. 15, 2004, the 25-year-old sergeant volunteered for dangerous duty assisting an under-strength squad in clearing heavily armed insurgents from barricaded houses. As the squad rushed into one house, Peralta was wounded in the crossfire and knocked to the ground.
An insurgent rolled a grenade toward the Marines. Peralta, laying on the ground, reached out and grabbed the grenade, using his body to shield his fellow Marines from the blast, according to Marines who were there. He saved four squad members, maybe more, at the cost of his life.

But, despite this heroism, Peralta’s family is being denied one final honor for their dead son–the Medal of Honor. Instead, he will posthumously receive the Navy Cross, the second highest honor for combat bravery by a Marine.
Who can blame his mother, Rosa Peralta, for being angry and upset? Rafael Peralta deserves the Medal of Honor. He saved several lives and enabled his fellow soldiers, some of them fathers, to return home to their families. The soldiers say they saw him reach out and grab the grenade and put it under his body. But a committee of doctors and military figures insists that heroism isn’t involved since Peralta was shot in the head and could not have survived before he used his body to shield his fellow soldiers from the grenade. And that’s why they recommended against giving Peralta this honor:

A rare decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to reject a Marine Corps recommendation that one of its heroes receive the Medal of Honor has angered Marines who say Sgt. Rafael Peralta sacrificed his life to save theirs.
Peralta’s family was notified of the decision Wednesday by Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, a top Marine Corps commander. Col. David Lapan, a Marine spokesman, said he was unaware of any recent award nomination that was denied in this way.
A Gates-appointed panel unanimously concluded that the report on Peralta’s action did not meet the standard of “no margin of doubt or possibility of error,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. The argument about whether to award Peralta the nation’s highest military honor centers on whether a mortally wounded Marine could have intentionally reached for the grenade after suffering a serious head wound.
For his actions during a Nov. 15, 2004, firefight in Fallujah, Iraq, Peralta will receive the Navy Cross, the service’s second-highest award for valor. The citation said Peralta, 25, covered a live grenade thrown by insurgents.
“I don’t want that medal,” Peralta’s mother, Rosa, said Wednesday. “I won’t accept it. It doesn’t seem fair to me.”
The decision is “almost like somebody called me a liar,” said Marine Sgt. Nicholas Jones, 25, who was with Peralta that day. Jones, a recruiter, said Peralta’s actions have become part of Marine Corps lore, as drill sergeants and officer-candidate instructors repeat it to new Marines. “His name is definitely synonymous with valor,” said Jones, who was wounded by the grenade blast.
“I know for a fact that I would have been killed . . . and that my daughter, Sophia, our new baby, Sienna, would not be here or coming into the world. And that my son, Noah, would have grown up without knowing his dad,” said Robert Reynolds, 31, a corrections officer and former Marine who was with Peralta that day.
In a Marine Corps investigation of the attack, Natonski said, “I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt” that the gravely wounded Peralta covered the grenade.
Natonski, commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., appeared disappointed by the news he brought the family, said David Donald, Rosa Peralta’s son-in-law. “He felt like Rafael deserved the Medal of Honor,” Donald said.
Peralta’s heroism has become Marine Corps legend, Lapan says. . . . Peralta had been shot in the head before he covered the grenade, a Marine investigation said. The report concluded he was hit by a ricochet that likely came from the gun of another Marine while they were clearing insurgents from a local home.
After he was wounded, the report said, Peralta scooped an insurgent grenade under his body, absorbed the blast and died, according to five of the Marines who were with Peralta during the firefight. . . .
Gates made his decision last week, Whitman said. He declined to provide any explanation other than the facts did not meet the standard for a Medal of Honor.
Five men have been awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq, one for service in Afghanistan. All were posthumous.
Peralta first came to the United States from Mexico without legal documentation as a teen and joined the Marines the day he got his green card on April 17, 2000. He later became a naturalized citizen. . . .
According to [the Marine Corps] investigation, Marines scrambling for cover after an insurgent threw a grenade toward them plainly saw Peralta reach with his arm to “scoop” the grenade under his body.
Scorch marks were later found on his flak jacket, along with embedded pieces of shrapnel and a part of the grenade fuse, the reports show. “There’s no way that grenade got under the center of mass of his body without him putting it there,” said Reserve Marine Lt. Col. Scott Marconda, who investigated the incident in 2004 as a major and judge advocate. “I’m not a cheerleader. It is what it is. And my point is: I believe that he did that.”
The Marine investigation highlighted a key area of controversy: whether the gunshot wound to the back of Peralta’s head from a ricochet left him unable to function.
Col. Eric Berg, an Army pathologist who autopsied Peralta’s remains, said in the 2005 report that the head wound would have been “nearly instantly fatal. He could not have executed any meaningful motions.”
Berg said Monday that he stands by his conclusions. Four other experts – Peralta’s battalion surgeon, and two neurosurgeons and a neurologist who examined the autopsy reports – said Peralta could have knowingly reached for the grenade. They say the ricochet was traveling at a “low velocity” and would not have immediately killed him.

Miracles often happen that cannot be explained by accepted medicine or science. And, yes, some (including me) consider it divine intervention. Sometimes, there are incidents of superhuman strength. Some, such as the stories of mothers lifting cars off their kids, are often mythical. But sometimes superhuman and unscientific things happen that defy proven medical science. I believe this is one of those cases, and so do Peralta’s fellow soldiers, commanding officers, and family.
Rafael Peralta is not just an American hero. His is that rare case of self-sacrifice that is, indeed, worthy and deserving of the Medal of Honor. His fellow soldiers know what they saw.
It speaks volumes that our government defied all reason to give Iraq trutherist Jessica Lynch–an incompetent soldier who failed to follow orders, mishandled her weapon, etc.–the Bronze Star (because she’s a woman), but won’t exercise the reason and goodwill necessary here to give an American soldier his due for making the ultimate sacrifice.
Give the guy his medal. Sgt. Rafael Peralta earned it.
We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.
**** UPDATE, 9/19/08: Reader Sean, who served our country in the military, writes:

When I first saw the story of this Marine who will posthumously receive the Navy Cross instead of the Congressional Medal of Honor, I thought that it was a case where perhaps there wasn’t enough direct testimony, or there was some other reason it was downgraded. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, the Medal of Honor is sort of the military equivalent of sainthood. Once you receive The Medal you have been permanently placed among the pantheon of heroes – many of whom received their award posthumously– whose uncommon valor is the epitome of courage and selflessness to which all soldiers should strive.
But after reading your post, I’m deeply troubled. It sounds like some panel in the bowels of the Pentagon decided he couldn’t have lived long enough to consciously roll the grenade under his body. This was in spite of the testimony of several eyewitnesses and medical experts. But that also begs a question. If he didn’t actively do it himself, that would mean he didn’t commit ANY act of bravery and he shouldn’t receive any award other than a purple heart for his mortal wounds.
It may sound like I’m putting my tin foil hat on, but I think there’s more to this story than we know. This Marine and his family deserve better.

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19 Responses

BUT, as you rightly point out in other posts here on your site, the Dearbonistan Muzzies get all the freebees. Heroism and Patriotism are not recognized by the left (and Gates is no better than them) nor by the congresscritters and bureauweenies who only illustrate “The Peter Principle” to its fullest degree.

Codekeyguy on September 18, 2008 at 11:19 pm

We have cowards in this country. Who not only refuse to give an American his due, we have Jewicidal cowards who canceled an anti-Iran rally because it would appear “too partisan.” Is it too much for people to do the right thing? Apparently it is and both our government and private groups fall short in living up to the great traditions of our country. Does Sgt. Rafael Peralta deserve the Medal Of Honor? If that’s not heroism under fire, then we don’t know what heroism is any more! Give a gallant American his just earned recognition!

NormanF on September 18, 2008 at 11:27 pm

The following story might help the family understand, the medal process is very political and bureaucratic. I remember the following story very well when the MOH recipient had to go on the local news station for help because he was so busted up and living on just a few dollars struggling to survive lost in the VA haze. What I remember about his story was that he was smashed in the back of the head/butt-stroked with an SKS but still was able to kill the attacker with in hand-to-hand combat.
Screw those candy-a– doctors who claim to know what someone is capable of in combat.
Roy Benavidez was born in Cuero in DeWitt County. He was of Mexican and Yaqui Indian ancestry. He entered the U.S. Army in June 1955, becoming a Special Forces soldier. Serving in combat during the Vietnam War, on 2 May 1968, he “distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely dangerous actions… while assigned to Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. Benavidez was originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, but upon hearing that he had survived the war, his former commander started the process to have the medal upgraded.
“Benavidez suffered a broken jaw and 37 bullet and bayonet puncture wounds in the fight. He was so mauled that his commanding officer thought he wouldn’t live long enough to receive a Medal of Honor. He nominated Benavidez for the Distinguished Service Cross instead, because the No. 2 award would take less time and paperwork to obtain.
On February 24, 1981, President Ronald W. Reagan presented Benavidez with the Medal of Honor. Benavidez is one of the 43 Hispanic Americans among the 3,400 recipients of the Medal of Honor since the award was created in 1861
Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez (center) is flanked by United States Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger (left) and United States President Ronald Reagan at his Medal of Honor presentation ceremony in 1981.
Benavidez penned two autobiographical books related to his life and military experience. In 1986, The Three Wars of Roy Benavidez described his struggles growing up as a Mexican American youth, his military training and combat in Vietnam, and the efforts by others to get recognition for his actions in Vietnam. Benavidez later wrote the autobiographical Medal of Honor: A Vietnam Warrior’s Story (1995).
That pathetic summary is from Wikipedia, but I’m to tired to care anymore about stupid government sh-t. I believe the Marines are probably concerned that they don’t have too many Marines awarded the MOH due to diving on grenades, the Pentagon is full of these REMP political types, always second guessing some poor grunts benefits. SCREW THEM, they hate themselves more than we do because they are loathsome characters.

code7 on September 18, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Yes, Sergeant Peralta saved his buddies by sacrificing his own life, and that sort of selfless action frequently results in being recognized with award of the Medal of Honor.
But, not always.
Why it’s not being done in this case, I don’t know.
Since none of us were there, and we aren’t privy to the official written records, it’s awful hard to Monday morning quarterback a decision made by those whose responsibility it is.
But, we shouldn’t be so quick to denigrate or dismiss the Navy Cross, which is itself a very high honor awarded for exceptional valor in combat, and one which relatively few men ever receive.
Furthermore, the man was a United States Marine, and not everybody gets to do that.
Audie Murphy, the most decorated hero of the Second World War, was denied enlistment in the United States Marine Corps.
As for myself, I too, was denied enlistment in the United States Marine Corps, and instead, just like Audie Murphy, I served in the United States Army.
So, whether or not his parents ever receive a posthumous Medal of Honor in his behalf, their son is still a true American hero.
Also, I’m guessing that a United States Marine would not appreciate all this embarrassing public dispute over whether he should or should not be awarded the nation’s highest, or our nation’s second highest, military decoration for exceptional valor in combat.
Guys who’ve “been there, done that” will tell you that there are many true heroes who never receive the full recognition they deserve because – – – life just ain’t fair, and that’s just the way it is.
Thank you.
John Robert Mallernee
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400
NOTE: “My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan.”

writesong on September 18, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Anyone who throws them selves on a hand grenade deserves the medal of honor. Totally selfless act of bravery. Period. Sometimes the civilians in charge of the military are morons.
Maybe the military should not be subservient to the civilians. After all, who gives more to our country? The military or civilians? No brainer. Certainly the idiot welfare recipient shouldn’t be AS entitled to a vote as a cmh winner! Politically correct? I think not. True? I believe so!!!!!!

samurai on September 19, 2008 at 12:01 am

Ironic the first post you made today was of a jackass multimillionaire basketball player who disrespects our country and says about the national anthem “I dont celebrate that shit, I am Black”. Finally your last post is of a hero who wasnt even legal at first to be here but proved his love for a country and fellow man by sacrificing everything. Talk about contrasts. God Bless Our Troops.

californiascreaming on September 19, 2008 at 12:41 am

Debbie, as Jews, we believe in a better world for the souls after this life on earth.
Souls of heros such as Sgt. Peralta earn a lot more there than a piece of ribbon and bronze for their good deeds to their fellow men.
I hope similar thoughts are what truly console his family.

Shy Guy on September 19, 2008 at 3:20 am

He so should have gotten an MOH, but the Navy Cross is almost as good.

mindy1 on September 19, 2008 at 6:34 am

If you survive, there is extra pay for certain medals which help the soldiers raise their families. There are extra promotion points which help the soldier who sacrificed in combat compete for his rank. The judgement, as mentioned in the previous excellent post, of those present should be given the proper respect. However, many times, those who were present are killed or later second guessed.

code7 on September 19, 2008 at 8:37 am

My father-in-law is living proof that a head injury suffered during battle is not always fatal. He was wounded during the first few days of the battle at Ihantala-tali against the Soviets during WWII.
As he lay on the ground at the foot of the make shift field hospital he heard the doctors discussing whether they should send him on ahead to an actual field hospital or just leave him there, the shrapnel wound to his head was that severe.
Fortunately he was given the green light, and has lived into his 80’s, but sadly as I write this comment, he lies in central Finland’s main hospital suffering from a heart attack. He has suffered from severe memory loss, headaches, epileptic seizures and had to learn to read write all over again….but he never looked back.
He was proud to defend his homeland against the Soviets and would have done so even had he known what would have happened. So I believe that the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s decision to not honor this brave man with the Medal of Honor is very short sighted in deed.

kgs59 on September 19, 2008 at 9:00 am

I have much respect and adulation towards Sgt.Peralta just as much as I have towards anyone who enlists in the military for the sake of defending our country.Those people deserve as much honor as we can bestow to them. I can’t say the same for those who court marshal our troops under false accusations.
What leaves me a bit puzzled is how ccould he have been an illegal immigrant if he already had a green card?

American Sabrah on September 19, 2008 at 10:15 am

As a former Marine it saddens me that this brave Marine is denied this final honor. It also saddens me that the word of the Marines who witnessed this sacrafice are treated so lightly. They too are wronged by this decision. Marines have honor and they would not lie about what they saw. God Bless them all.

formerwm on September 19, 2008 at 12:00 pm

This Marine, should receive the Medal Of Honor without question. As I looked at the People who had received
this Honor, at the National Marine Corps Museum. I noticed
this since the war has started, there has only been “one” Marine who has received this honor. Why is this? I’m sure that
there are many other Marines who have acted and perform
heroic to save other Marines. Would you agree.
Our country is wrong, not to award him this honor. And I am a Marine! Semper FI. !!

x7503d on September 19, 2008 at 12:11 pm

On one hand, I can understand why the family would be upset, but on the other hand, the Navy Cross is nothing to be sneezed at. Their is an incredible array of bureaucratic hurdles to clear before it is awarded. If the documentation fails to clear any of these, the MOH is not awarded, nor should it be. While Sgt. Peralta probably does deserve the MOH based on his actions alone, if an exception is granted in this case, where does one draw the line the next time? One does not tamper with the machinations of immortality.

Islam Delenda Est on September 19, 2008 at 1:23 pm

If he gets any medal at all, it should be the one which was earned, in this case the MOH. That grenade didn’t just roll under him by itself, did it? I don’t understand how a lesser medal can be awarded for an obvious deserving conscious effort by this soldier.

rickster on September 19, 2008 at 1:50 pm

If Sgt. Peralta earned the esteemed Navy Cross by nothing more than getting randomly shot in the head, what does that say for the moronic brass who conferred it? Clearly he was awarded the NC for his action in covering the grenade otherwise it diminishes the value of the award. Whether he “knew” he was mortally wounded or not Sgt. Rafael Peralta rightfully should have been awarded the CMOH. Maybe Gates thought another CMOH for the Iraq theater exceeded the “allotment” but his argument against the award is illogical. The President should override him.

J-Lin on September 19, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Looks like Duncan Hunter and several other congresscritters are pushing Bush to review (and hopefully override) Gates’ stupid decision.

Codekeyguy on September 19, 2008 at 8:56 pm

And I’ll just bet that neither Gates nor any of his panel members would cover a grenade with THEIR precious bodies to save their fellow man! Cowards.

mplumb on September 20, 2008 at 3:28 pm

If you check the WWII records, very few of those who “through themselves on grenades” received the MoH. Most received the either the Navy Cross or The Distinguished Service Cross depending on their branch of service.
This has nothing to do with racism or nationalism he just did not meet the requirements that other recipients met. Also not every recommendation by a superior is granted.
His family should be proud of what he did of the sacrifice that he made and not belittle it because of a piece of bronze with a ribbon on it. That is the true measure of his character, and no medal can change that.
Martin Fee

mfee01 on September 23, 2008 at 8:01 am

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