Sgt. Rafael Peralta is credited with saving the lives of four Marines during the bloody battle in 2004 by smothering a live grenade with his body.
“It is my firm belief that Pentagon bureaucrats, whether intentionally or not, created needless confusion with Peralta’s nomination,” wrote Hunter in a letter to Mattis
Peralta was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but that was downgraded to the Navy Cross. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma.
Hunter has repeatedly appealed on Peralta’s behalf, and said in his letter that he hoped that as a Marine himself, Mattis would appreciate Peralta’s heroism.
“And different from your predecessors, who lacked your personal experience commanding Marines and forces in Iraq, I believe you have the right perspective and familiarity with the facts to make an informed judgment on this matter,” wrote Hunter.
Peralta, who was born in Mexico City and raised in San Diego, joined the Marines after graduating from Morse High School.
The Navy named a new guided-missile destroyer after Peralta, and the ship will arrive in its home port of San Diego in the spring.
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