Monday, May 30, 2011
It is Memorial Day, a day that Ameicans are remembering those who gave their lives for the country. Dorian de Wind on the Huffington Post pays tribute to the diverse group of Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Among other, the story mentions
"The enemy grenade that killed Mexican-born Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta on November 15, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq, where he heroically smothered a grenade explosion with his body saving the lives of six fellow Marines, was unaware that Peralta had come to the U.S. as a teen without legal documentation. Peralta would be nominated to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor."
Here is just what Sgt. Peralta did:
"Clearing scores of houses in the previous three days, Sergeant Peralta’ asked to join an under strength squad and volunteered to stand post the night of 14 November, allowing fellow Marines more time to rest. The following morning, during search and attack operations, while clearing the seventh house of the day, the point man opened a door to a back room and immediately came under intense, close-range automatic weapons fire from multiple insurgents. The squad returned fire, wounding one insurgent. While attempting to maneuver out of the line of fire, Sergeant Peralta was shot and fell mortally wounded. After the initial exchange of gunfire, the insurgents broke contact, throwing a fragmentation grenade as they fled the building. The grenade came to rest near Sergeant Peralta’s head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away. Sergeant Peralta succumbed to his wounds. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Sergeant Peralta reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."
Despite his heroics, Sgt. Peralta failed to be given the Medal of Honor but was given the Navy Cross. Military politics may have come into play, with Peralta's one-time status as an undocumented immigrant cutting against his receipt of the nation's highest military honor.