Two more U.S. lawmakers joined in the call to award Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta a posthumous Medal of Honor.
U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Xavier Becerra (D-CA), working with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), introduced a joint House-Senate resolution to award Peralta the medal. They introduced the resolution on the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.
The lawmakers are the latest who have joined the effort to award military’s highest honor to Peralta, a Mexican immigrant from San Diego, Calif.
“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,” Hunter said in a statement.
The 25-year-old Peralta died in Iraq during the battle for Fallujah in 2004, which The Los Angeles Times describes as “the bloodiest house-to-house fighting involving Marines since Vietnam.” The Marines that were with Peralta that day have said while he was wounded, he reached out and smothered an enemy grenade, saving the lives of several other soldiers.
The Marine Corps nominated Peralta for the Medal of Honor in 2008, but then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates downgraded the award to the Navy Cross. Gates based his decision on the conclusion that Peralta, who suffered a head wound, was not conscious when his body covered the grenade.
The change upset both the Marines and Peralta’s family.
“Sergeant Peralta exemplified and lived the values Americans hold dear: honor, duty, and dedication to his country,” Becerra said. “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.”
Hunter, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine officer, believes a new film shows Peralta’s body did not have consistent bruises matching the pathologist’s views of how Peralta died.