Today, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of U.S.-led military operations in Iraq, U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter and Xavier Becerra, joined by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Marco Rubio, introduced a joint House-Senate resolution recommending that Marine Corps Sergeant Rafael Peralta be awarded the Medal of Honor.
"Sergeant Peralta is a hero, not just to the men who witnessed him do the unthinkable, but also to the Marine Corps and all others who value the courage and sacrifice of America's military," said Representative Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The reasoning for Sergeant Peralta's downgrade is inconsistent and contradicts seven eyewitness accounts, each stating that Sergeant Peralta consciously scooped the grenade. We trusted our Marines to reclaim the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah and fight through Iraq and Afghanistan, and we should trust our Marines when they say that Sergeant Peralta pulled the grenade into his body.
"Sergeant Peralta's personal story is just as compelling and says a lot about who he was. He was born in Mexico and moved to San Diego as a child. He could have done a lot of things, but, on the same day he received his green card, he decided to join the Marines, something he aspired to do. He loved America and wanted to fight to defend the country that gave new opportunity and freedom to his family. Honor, courage and commitment meant something to Sergeant Peralta, and the only way to fully recognize his contribution and selflessness is to award him the Medal of Honor."
Sergeant Peralta was killed in November 2004 during operations in Fallujah, Iraq, when he absorbed a grenade blast, saving the lives of his fellow Marines. For his actions, Sergeant Peralta was posthumously nominated for the Medal of Honor but the award was later downgraded to the Navy Cross on the basis that he could not have deliberately pulled the grenade into his body because of a head wound.
"Sergeant Rafael Peralta's story is the epitome of what makes America great, generation after generation. After immigrating with his family from Mexico to the United States, Sergeant Peralta joined the Marines the first chance he was able to -- the morning he received his green card," said Representative Becerra, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
"Sergeant Peralta exemplified and lived the values Americans hold dear: honor, duty, and dedication to his country. Not only did he fight and die for our country, but it was Sergeant Peralta's final actions that saved the lives of six fellow Marines. His service, his selflessness and heroism should have earned him the highest honor that our nation can bestow on the fallen. Sergeant Rafael Peralta deserves the Medal of Honor."
The House legislation was introduced with 27 original cosponsors.