A dispute about whether Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta of San Diego, killed in Iraq 8 years ago, deserves the Medal of Honor may be resolved within weeks.
By Tony Perry
Los Angeles Times
November 19, 2012
A memorial for Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta was set up by his family in their San Diego home in 2004. A dispute about whether Peralta, 25, a Mexican immigrant, deserves the Medal of Honor remains one of the last pieces of unfinished business from the U.S. involvement in Iraq. (Glenn Koenig, Los Angeles Times / December 1, 2004)
Eight years ago this month, Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta of San Diego was killed in Iraq during the battle for Fallouja, the bloodiest house-to-house fighting involving Marines since Vietnam.
A dispute about whether Peralta, 25, a Mexican immigrant, deserves the Medal of Honor remains one of the last pieces of unfinished business from the U.S. involvement in Iraq.
The Marine Corps nominated Peralta for the Medal of Honor. But then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2008 downgraded the award to the Navy Cross — upsetting the Marines and Peralta's family.
Now, Gates' successor, Leon Panetta, appears on the verge of announcing the result of his review of Gates' decision, based on a video of the aftermath of the house-clearing mission in which Peralta was killed.
Whether Panetta will uphold or reverse Gates' decision is unknown. Medal of Honor decisions are some of the most closely held secrets in the military.
The Marines who were with Peralta that day are unanimous in their view that, although he lay mortally wounded, he reached out and smothered an enemy grenade, saving the lives of several Marines.
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