Here’s a previously-unseen photo of mangled body armour used by Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta when he jumped on a grenade in Fallujah.
On Nov. 15, 2004, Peralta, 25, was shot as he entered a room with two other Marines during house-to-house fighting. A grenade was thrown into the room shortly after, and according to eyewitness accounts, Peralta reached out and cradled it under his body — absorbing the blast that would kill him and save two other Marines’ lives.
Cpl. Travis J. Kaemmerer, who was embedded with Peralta’s squad that day, recounted Peralta and members of his squad kicking down a door and being instantly fired upon. Peralta, who fell mortally wounded, “noticed a grenade only a foot from his head, and without hesitation reached out, grabbed it and pressed it to his heart, subsequently saving the lives of the other Marines in his squad,” reads the account on the website of I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Peralta was awarded the nation’s second-highest award for his actions, the Navy Cross — but his family has spent years fighting for an upgrade to the Medal of Honour.
From Marine Times:
Controversy remains at the heart of Peralta’s story. The Corps nominated Peralta for the Medal of Honour, but then-Defence Secretary Robert Gates questioned whether the Marine acted consciously to cover the grenade, pointing to a head wound he sustained from a ricocheting bullet fragment. A report from Peralta’s autopsy also indicated that the grenade may have exploded six to 10 feet from Peralta’s left side, though follow-on reports challenged that account.
This new image showing extensive damage to Peralta’s body armour is among other evidence unearthed, including a rifle covered with shrapnel, and graphic video footage obtained by Hunter’s office from that day containing audio of Marines on scene talking about the grenade landing on the sergeant, according to UT-San Diego.
“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 to Fox News Latino last March.
From Headquarters Marine Corps:
Born April 7, 1979, in Mexico City, Peralta was the oldest of four siblings. The son of Rafael and Rosa Peralta, he immigrated to the United States and joined the Marine Corps in April 2000 after receiving his green card and later became an American citizen.
Witness Cpl. Kaemmerer later recounted the advice he was told after Peralta’s death by a fellow Marine: “You’re still here; don’t forget that. Tell your kids, your grandkids, what Sgt. Peralta did for you and the other Marines today.”
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