Hunter Urges Marines to Nominate Sgt. Rafael Peralta for Medal of Honor

Peralta, who jumped on a grenade in Iraq, had his award downgraded to a Navy Cross

Rep. Duncan Hunter / AP
January 14, 2016

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) is urging the Marine Corps to resubmit Sgt. Rafael Peralta for a Medal of Honor nomination after a recent statement of support from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In a letter on Thursday to Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, Hunter noted that he "was intensely involved in the effort to see the Medal of Honor awarded to Peralta and petitioned multiple Defense Secretaries to review the case":

Twice, after former Defense Secretary Bob Gates downgraded Peralta’s award to a Navy Cross, the case was reviewed, and in both instances, the Defense Department stood by a determination that the grenade detonated several feet from Peralta’s leg as he was face-down on the floor. Video evidence shows no injury to Peralta’s leg but rather confirms severe injury to the abdomen.

Also, among the extensive amount of evidence confirming Peralta’s heroic actions, a piece of the grenade fuse was recovered from his body armor, center-mass. By the Defense Department’s logic, upon detonation of the grenade, the fuse would have had to travel through the concrete ground-level floor, move several feet to Peralta’s location, and again cut through the concrete floor at a speed fast enough to imbed securely in his body armor. This is impossible. Bottom line: the position of previous Defense Department leadership is not supported by the facts. […]

As the awards review process moves forward, it is my hope that the Marines Corps will continue to support Peralta for the nation’s highest award for combat valor.

Gen. Joe Dunford, the Joint Chiefs chairman and former Marine Corps commandant, announced his support this week of a review of all recommendations for service cross awards and Silver Star Medal awards since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001—particularly the case of Peralta.

"I recommended [Marine Corps Sgt.] Rafael Peralta," he said. "I was with the division when he was recommended, and I reviewed that case, and I sat on the board, and I thought that particular case was certainly in the same category as others who received the Medal of Honor."

Published under: Duncan Hunter