Tags: Hagel | Peralta | Medal | Honor

Hagel Denies Medal of Honor to Celebrated Marine Hero

Friday, 21 Feb 2014 08:23 PM


  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reviewed the case of a Marine sergeant honored for heroism in Iraq and agreed with two other Pentagon chiefs that the evidence is insufficient to merit the highest military award for valor, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Supporters have criticized the department for denying Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta's nomination for the Medal of Honor for his actions in Fallujah in 2004, when he pulled a grenade under his body to shield his comrades from the explosion, even as he was already dying of a fatal head wound.

The five members of his squad were eyewitnesses to Peralta's actions and nominated him for the honor, but some medical experts have raised doubts as to whether he could have consciously moved the grenade under his body given the damage caused by the bullet wound.

"After extensively familiarizing himself with the history of Sergeant Peralta's nomination, Secretary Hagel determined the totality of the evidence does not meet the 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt' Medal of Honor award standard," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Peralta's case has become a cause celebre among Marines and others. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates initially denied the Medal of Honor nomination, he approved Peralta for the Navy Cross, the second-highest military award for valor for members of the Navy and Marine Corps.

Supporters and lawmakers have continued to lobby for reconsideration of Peralta's case. Gates' successor, Leon Panetta, reviewed the case and decided against reopening it. Hagel became the third defense chief to examine the case, acting at the request of California lawmakers.

Although denied the Medal of Honor, Peralta has become a symbol of heroism among Marines and was further honored just last year by the Navy, which named its 65th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer after him.

A native of Mexico, Peralta immigrated illegally to the United States and graduated from high school in California. He joined the Marine Corps as soon as he received his legal residency card and later became a U.S. citizen.

Hagel's decision in the Peralta case coincided with a White House announcement that President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans from Vietnam, Korea and World War Two, most of them Jews or Hispanics who may have been previously denied the award due to prejudice.

Obama will award the medals during a White House ceremony on March 18.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Charlie Rangel: GOP Believes 'Slavery Isn't Over'

Thursday, 30 Oct 2014 23:09 PM

Rep. Charlie Rangel on Thursday likened Republicans to Confederates from the Civil War era, charging that they "believe  . . .

New York Archdiocese to Reorganize, Merge Parishes

Thursday, 30 Oct 2014 22:51 PM

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York will merge more than 50 parishes because of lower attendance and rising expen . . .

Michelle Bachmann: World Sees US Has No Plan to Fight Terrorism

Thursday, 30 Oct 2014 21:56 PM

The world has no confidence in U.S. leadership because they don't know what our plans to fight terrorism are, Rep. Miche . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved