A picture of Representative Xavier Becerra
Xavier B.
Democrat CA 34

About Rep. Xavier
  • Resolution Recommending the Posthumous Award of the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Rafael Peralta

    by Representative Xavier Becerra

    Posted on 2013-03-19

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    BECERRA of california in the house of representatives Tuesday, March 19, 2013 Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of a resolution recommending the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to one of America's bravest soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, Sergeant Rafael Peralta.

    Sgt. Peralta's story is the epitome of what makes America great generation after generation. After immigrating as a teenager with his family from Mexico to San Diego, Sgt. Peralta joined the Marines the first chance he was able to--the morning he received his green card. According to his mother, Rosa Peralta, Sgt. Peralta ``really loved this country'' and loved being a Marine. In fact, he passed along his love for the Marines to his brother, Ricardo, who kept a promise he made at his brother's funeral by enlisting in the Marines Corps in 2010.

    In 2004, Sgt. Peralta was killed during a house-clearing mission in Fallujah, Iraq. According to news reports, during a firefight with insurgents, a fragment from a friendly-fire bullet ricocheted and struck Sgt. Peralta in the back of his head. According to eyewitness accounts from fellow Marines who were at the scene, Sgt. Peralta, despite his mortal wound, pulled an enemy grenade under his body and absorbed the ensuing blast. By doing so, he saved the lives of an estimated six of his fellow Marines.

    Each of the armed services has provisions for judging whether an individual is eligible for the Medal of Honor--which permit no margin of doubt or error. Historically, the individual's action must be supported by incontestable evidence of at least two eyewitnesses. In Sgt. Peralta's case, seven eyewitnesses confirmed that he smothered the grenade blast with his body. Even though a pathologist report questioned whether Sgt. Peralta could have deliberately brought the grenade to his body due to his wound, separate analyses by three neurologists opined otherwise. His Navy Cross citation, the second highest American military decoration that can be awarded to a Marine, says it all: ``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.

    Sgt. Peralta exemplified and lived the values Americans hold dear: honor, duty, and dedication to his country. In a letter written right before his death, Sgt. Peralta told his brother, ``I'm proud to be a Marine, a U.S. Marine, and to defend and protect the freedom and Constitution of America. You should be proud of being an American citizen.'' Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to support this resolution and recommend the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to a true American hero, Sgt. Rafael Peralta.

    [[Page E335]] ____________________

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