|Birth: ||Apr. 7, 1979, Mexico|
|Death: ||Nov. 15, 2004|
Al Anbar, Iraq
A native of Mexico, Rafael Peralta was so eager to become a U.S. Marine that he enlisted the day after receiving legal residency in the U.S. He went on to become a U.S. citizen, residing in San Diego, CA.
He was assigned to the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
As platoon scout he was not assigned to the assault team that entered the insurgent safe house in Fallujah but, as he frequently did, volunteered to accompany them. One of the first to enter the house, Sgt. Peralta was hit in the face by rifle fire. As he fell to the floor, wounded but conscious, an insurgent rolled a fragmentation grenade into the area where the Marines were taking cover. Their escape impeded by a locked door, Sgt. Peralta grabbed the grenade and held it to his body. Though one member of the assault team was injured by shrapnel, they credit Sgt. Peralta with saving at least half their lives.
Posthumously nominated to receive the Medal of Honor, on September 17, 2008 it was announced that Sgt. Peralta would instead be awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest honor a Marine can receive for combat heroism. A 2005 investigation into his death determined he had been wounded multiple times in the face and body, likely hit by "friendly fire," when caught in crossfire between the insurgents and his unit.
In February 2012 Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer would be named in Sgt. Peralta's honor.
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"The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS posthumously to SERGEANT RAFAEL PERALTA UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS for service as set forth in the following
For extraordinary heroism while serving as Platoon Guide with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, in action against Anti-Coalition Forces in support of Operation AL FAJR, 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 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.
For the President,
(signed) Donald C. Winter
Secretary of the Navy"
US Marine Corps
Our Loving Hero
Note: KIA Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
San Diego County
Plot: Section A-E Site 29A
Created by: O'side Native
Record added: Nov 28, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 9977469