With a new Secretary of Defense at the helm, several members of California's congressional delegation have started a new push to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to fallen San Diego Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta.
The Military Times reports there's a new proposed joint resolution in Congress that recommends Peralta finally be awarded the Medal of Honor. Its supporters include Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-CA, and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-CA.
Just last December, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta decided he would not overturn former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision not to award Peralta the Medal of Honor.
But with Chuck Hagel recently sworn in as the new Secretary of Defense, Peralta's supporters are hopeful they have another chance. Hunter told the Military Times:
“[Hagel] was an infantryman. He was enlisted. Sergeant Peralta was in the position, with seven eyewitnesses confirming his actions. That’s gotta mean something to Secretary Hagel.”
The nagging issue has been whether or not Peralta was conscious when he pulled a grenade to his body during a battle in Iraq in 2004, saving the lives of the men around him. The initial review of Peralta's case found the Marine did not knowingly cover the grenade with his body, as he had already been mortally injured. He was therefore awarded the Navy Cross instead of the Medal of Honor.
But Hunter, and members of the California congressional delegation, believe there is compelling competing medical evidence that proves Peralta was conscious at the time of his live-saving actions - thus making him worthy of the Medal of Honor.