Navy Cross will be awarded to Marine Rafael Peralta

The Mexican-born marine has been denied the Medal of Honor by the Pentagon.

Mortally wounded, Peralta reached for a fragmentation grenade launched by the enemy and covered it with his body to save his colleagues. (Photo: Marine corps)
English 01/06/2015 17:51 Actualizada 17:51

The family U.S. Marine Rafael Peralta, who died in Iraq in 2004, will accept next month the Navy Cross, after the civilian leadership of the Pentagon denied him the Medal of Honor, the highest distinction in the country.

Peralta, born in Mexico City and who died in the battle of Fallujah, was recommended by generals to receive the Medal of Honor, but a controversial revision by then Secretary of Defense William Gates concluded that the war hero did not deserve it.

The case, which attracted the attention of The Washington Post has been revised during the past 11 years, in the midst of divergent points of view between the civilian leaders of the Department of Defense, and their commanders and fellow soldiers.

According to relatives of the soldier in California, his mother Rosa is tired of battling with the bureaucracy of the Pentagon and will accept the Navy Cross during a ceremony to be held in Camp Pendleton, on June 8.

"This decision does not mean that she was ready to surrender," expressed Ricardo Peralta, brother of Rafael. "It just means that she is tired".

Rafael Peralta was born on April 7, 1979, in Mexico City and emigrated with his family to the U.S. His father, Rafael, died in a work accident and Rafael, according to his profile in Wikipedia, had to take care his mother, brother, and two sisters.

After his graduation in Morse High School in 1997 and in order to obtain his "green card" he joined the Marine Corps in 2000. Four years later, he was deployed to Iraq.

His death, according to the testimony of his colleagues, occurred when he received a lethal shot in the head at the battle of Fallujah. Mortally wounded, Rafael Peralta reached for a fragmentation grenade launched by the enemy and covered it with his body to save his colleagues.

Although the military commanders recommended him for the Medal of Honor, members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon considered that the action of Peralta was a reflex act because he was mortally wounded. Although his companions disagreed with this version, his case was immersed in a review for 11 years.

Then Secretary of Defense Gates denied him the Medal of Honor. A decision that, in accordance with the Post, infuriated not only his family but many of his peers. Despite this, his successor Leon Panetta maintained the refusal to grant him recognition.