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Rafael Peralta

Date of birth: April 7, 1979
Date of death: November 15, 2004
Place of Birth: Mexico, Mexico City
Home of record: San Diego California
Status: KIA

Rafael Peralta was born in Mexico and entered the United States illegally to attend school in San Diego, in order to avoid gang violence in Tijuana. Inspired to become a U.S. Marine, he enlisted the same day he received his "Green Card" and earned his citizenship while serving in the Marine Corps. His bedroom wall bore only three neatly-framed paper documents: The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Rafael's Marine Corps graduation certificate. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor based upon the eye witness statement of the five Marines whose lives he saved. In a highly controversial move, the Secretary of Defense downgraded the award to the Navy Cross. Efforts continue by those whose lives he saved, as well as many other Marines, to see Rafael Peralta ultimately awarded the Medal of Honor for this action.


Navy Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Sergeant Rafael Peralta, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Platoon Guide with 1st Platoon, Company A, First Battalion, Third Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7, FIRST Marine Division, in action against Anti-Coalition Forces in support of Operation AL FAJAR, in Fallujah, Iraq, on 15 November 2004. 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.

Action Date: November 15, 2004

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Company: Company A

Battalion: 1st Battalion

Regiment: 3d Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7

Division: 1st Marine Division