According to the award citation, Sgt. Rafael Peralta was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously after sacrificing his life by absorbing the blast of an enemy grenade and shielding fellow Marines only feet away while serving with Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, in Fallujah, Al Anbar province, Iraq, on Nov. 15, 2004.
Throughout the ceremony several people stepped forward to talk about Peralta and to express their gratitude for his actions. The first to speak was Rafael’s brother, Ricardo Peralta.
Ricardo enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2010 as an infantryman to follow in his brother’s footsteps.Ricardo spoke for his family when he said there’s nothing that can replace the sense of pride they have for Rafael and his actions.
“Regardless of any sort of award, buildings or ships being named after him, it doesn’t take away from the sense of pride that we all share,” Ricardo said. “Those of us that have worked beside him and worn the uniform have a sense of pride [and nothing can take that away].”
Ricardo also said his brother didn’t care about medals or decorations; he just wanted to serve as an infantryman.
“In the end, Navy Cross, Medal of Honor, it doesn’t matter,” he stated. “It’s all good.”
Staff Sergeant Adam Morrison, one of the Marines with Peralta when the grenade detonated, stated that if it wasn’t for the Peralta’s actions, he would have been fatally wounded.
The Peralta family said they have appreciated the support the Navy and Marine Corps has given in order to preserve the memory of the fallen warrior.Peralta’s legacy will live on through the stories and memorabilia left behind.
This fall, the U.S. Navy will christen an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer with his name, and his battle-worn rifle along with a letter written to Ricardo will be displayed in the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.