The fight to honor an immigrant Marine (Video)
Peralta, who was born in Mexico, died during a house-to-house sweep in the city of Falluja. But his story didn’t end there. Since not long after he died, there has been a back-and-forth between his fellow Marines and the Department of Defense over what witnesses described as extraordinary act of heroism: According to witnesses, a critically wounded Peralta reached out and grabbed a grenade that landed near his body, pulling it underneath him and smothering it. He’s credited with saving the lives of the Marines near him.
The dispute arose after Peralta was nominated for a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest distinction for military service. After a pathologist’s investigation, Department of Defense officials questioned whether such an act would have been possible given the wounds Peralta sustained. In the end he was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross, still a high honor, but a lesser one. The decision outraged his family and fellow Marines, especially those with him when he died.
Now, a delegation of lawmakers from California is asking military leaders to reconsider the Medal of Honor nomination, citing video recently released by The History Channel, which in 2007 aired a documentary about Peralta titled “Act of Honor.” From the Los Angeles Times:
The video, taken by a filmmaker who was following Marines during the battle, does not show the kind of leg wounds that would likely be present if the grenade, as the pathologist concluded, had exploded near Peralta’s leg instead of underneath his body as the Marines insisted.
KPBS’s Home Post blog published part of a letter dated Feb. 29 that was sent to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, signed by a bipartisan group of legislators from California and insisting that Peralta was fully capable of smothering the grenade as witnesses said they saw him do.
Read the full story at Southern California Public Radio