Puzzle Palace: No MOH for Peralta

| December 12, 2012

Those dinguses at the Pentagon have decided, from their years of enduring paper cuts and ass rashes, that Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta doesn’t deserve to have his Navy Cross upgraded to a Medal of Honor according to Stars & Stripes;

Peralta was killed during a firefight in Fallujah on Nov. 15, 2004. As his team entered a home overtaken by insurgents, Peralta was shot in the head and fell to the ground.

Eyewitness accounts state that before he died, the 25-year-old Marine reached out and pulled an enemy grenade under his body seconds before it detonated. His final sacrifice saved most of his team, those troops insist.

But after he was first nominated for the Medal of Honor, a panel of forensic pathologists reviewing the case found that Peralta could not have consciously grabbed the grenade because of the brain injuries from the gunshot. They also questioned whether the grenade detonated under Peralta’s body, or simply near his corpse.

So, CSI:Crystal City made the decision contradicting eyewitness testimony. Brilliant.

Category: Military issues

Comments (29)

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  1. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    I cannot count how many times in my life I have heard or read that medical science cannot explain how something that surely occurred happened at all. Here, the medical team’s opinion is that Peralta could not have consciously put himself atop the grenade. All that tells me is that they CANNOT imagine he could have done just that because their science fairly precludes it. If the men whom he saved say he put himself atop the grenade, then he did so.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but I thought ‘Puzzle Palace’ referred to the NSA, not the Pentagon? Or is it just used for both these days?

  3. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Let’s have another round of Audie Murphy awards, shall we? Oh, and how about a rainbow rope for the most politically correct trainees. Boy, this pisses me off.

  4. Eyewitnesses vs CSIs? Damn.

    I dunno much about the process involved, but it is just possible that every MOH award might be re-visited by those who weren’t there.


  5. pete says:

    fuk em all,,he wears the medal in our hearts.

  6. Just an Old Dog says:

    If we could get the same support from the Hispanic community that push for free tuition for Illegal Aliens to Award This Marine, one of their own, who deserves this Medal his just reward it would be awarded tomorrow.
    Doctors still can’t make accurate predictions about the human brain, yet they basically are saying the Marines who witnessed this dont know what they saw. Horseshit.

  7. 68W58 says:

    He got the Navy Cross for this correct? If he couldn’t have comciously formed the intent necessary to pull the grenade to him sufficient for the award of the MOH, how could he have done so sufficiently to be awarded the next lower award? Or was the NC awarded for other actions taken before he was wounded rendering him unable to take that action? In which case wouldn’t those actions plus the fact that he was then fatally wounded not push him past whatever unknown threshold qualifies one for the MOH? Help me out here, I’m confused.

    Anyway-Army Times did a story comparing actions from the current conflicts which have resulted in lesser awards with very similar actions from previous conflicts which resulted in the award of the MOH. In most of those instances it was hard (if not impossible) to see what criteria set the earlier actions apart and above those from the GWOT.

  8. FatCircles0311 says:

    “But Defense Department officials insist they have not changed any criteria for the awards. Instead, they blame the changing nature of war, noting that advanced technology and tactics have reduced the opportunities for the “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” mandated in the medal criteria.”

    How fucking disgusting. Marines that go into that fatal funnel is gallantry and why most in the military aren’t doing it. I don’t understand why the actions of our military are being marginalized in urban operations since the probability for death/causalities is far higher than out of urban areas.

    Thank you for your sacrifice, brother. RIP.

  9. kp32 says:

    I’ve been told you can’t even get a NAM for doing your job, however, a MOH for spending about 15 minutes on the bridge…

    For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Rear Adm. Kidd immediately went to the bridge and, as Commander Battleship Division One, courageously discharged his duties as Senior Officer Present Afloat until the U.S.S. Arizona, his Flagship, blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.

  10. kp32 says:

    For surrendering 11,000 men at Corregidor, General Wainwright receives MOH…

    Distinguished himself by intrepid and determined leadership against greatly superior enemy forces. At the repeated risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in his position, he frequented the firing line of his troops where his presence provided the example and incentive that helped make the gallant efforts of these men possible. The final stand on beleaguered Corregidor, for which he was in an important measure personally responsible, commanded the admiration of the Nation’s allies. It reflected the high morale of American arms in the face of overwhelming odds. His courage and resolution were a vitally needed inspiration to the then sorely pressed freedom-loving peoples of the world.

  11. kp32 says:

    For going to Australia to do his job, General MacArthur receives MOH…

    For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.

  12. Smaj says:

    More mind boggling nitpicking from those too out of touch and too far removed from reality. SGT Peralta’s Navy Cross citation says, “The grenade came to rest near Sergeant Peralta’s head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away.” So the “experts” back in DC override the sworn statements of the many witnesses. Those Marines he saved at least know the real deal.

  13. Tman says:

    68W58 is absolutely right.


  14. RandomNCO says:

    It’s a shame that it wasn’t upgraded, but a Navy Cross is nothing to be ashamed of. I served with a guy who tackled a Suicide Bomber before he was able to get to the rest of platoon at a checkpoint and was killed in the blast. He was awarded the usual Bronze Star/Purple Heart combo, but with a V device on the BS.

  15. JA says:

    Ok, I really should “keep my mouth shut” and not post this because I anticipate some vilification, but…

    I have seen cases where Soldiers, and I suppose Marines, have provided accounts of a comrade’s last moments that put that person in the best possible light. They do this out of entirely good motives. Usually, the account does not get much scrutiny. In this case, it didn’t until the decision to press for the MOH. That is why the NC was given but the MOH was not.

    I agree however, that we are seeing rising standards for medals for gallantry and lowering standards for “merit” medals. Including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, The Distinguished service Medal, The Defense Superior Service medal, The Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the MSM, ARCOM, AAM, not to mention the LoM and the BS w/o V. That is 8 or 9 grades of Attaboy medals. They are given out like candy to senior officers for completing a tour whether or not they do a really good job. But a infantry man who tackles a suicide bomber gets a bronze star? I’ve heard of cases of officers asking for a lower medal than the one proposed because they already had one and wanted to build their rack some more. We need to overhaul this a bit.

  16. SIGO says:

    I’m actually glad they did the due diligence. I am surprised this site would be against that. Common sense was thrown out the window on this post.

  17. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @15. “I have seen cases where Soldiers, and I suppose Marines, have provided accounts of a comrade’s last moments that put that person in the best possible light. They do this out of entirely good motives.”

    You mean such as, “He saved our lives.” That kind of good motive?

  18. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @16. Nice hit and run there pal. Next time you stop by, consider explaining yourself.

  19. Hondo says:

    Assuming Navy policies re: the MOH are the same as the Army’s, there is a potentially legitimate explanation. I’ll say up-front I’m cynical enough to doubt that’s the case here, but it’s theoretically possible.

    If I recall correctly, the Army requires two witnesses to the heroic act that leads to award of a MOH. Assuming the Navy policy is the same, it’s possible only one witness saw Peralta pull the grenade under him to shield his comrades.

    I seem to remember reading of a number of DSCs in previous wars that remained DSCs because there was no 2nd witness to part or all of the heroism involved, so I’d guess it’s a plausible explanation. But as I said above, I’m cynical enough that I doubt that’s the case here; I’m guessing JA is correct. The USMC has the reputation of being the “hardest” service with respect to decorations for heroism.

  20. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    Hondo: “Eyewitness accounts state that before he died, the 25-year-old Marine reached out and pulled an enemy grenade under his body seconds before it detonated.” It seems clear there was more than one witness. Besides, the sticking point seems to be whether Peralta was killed when he was hit, rendering him unable to pull the grenade to his body. As an alternative argument, the board seems to be saying, “He was dead, but if he wasn’t dead, he didn’t cover the grenade with his body and may have simpoly fell near it or it landed near him.” I choose the personal accounts of what occurred. The witnesses know–as does the family–that the Navy Cross is quite special. I do not believe that they sought the MOH review just because they would like to, as JA suggests, put Peralta “in the best possible light.”

  21. Hondo says:

    2-17 Air Cav: it is possible that only one of the eyewitness accounts actually contains a statement that Peralta “reached out and pulled an enemy grenade under his body” (or words to that effect). If so – and if the other accounts did not – that would be a plausible explanation for no upgrade.

    However, as I said previously I’m cynical enough to doubt that’s the case here. But it also can’t be dismissed out of hand unless one has reviewed the witness accounts personally – which I seriously doubt anyone commenting here has done.

  22. CBSenior says:

    Same old same old, Boots on the ground with first hand intel are ignored and the Chairborne Rangers rule the day. The Marines are notorious for being super tough for awards. Pretty much have to loose a body part for a BS. As for the Senior Officers and those awards, they are written into the awards manual, they are atuomatic end of tour awards. You have to really screw up not to get them. Had a Chief in Iraq that the XO hated, he would not approve a NAM that was submitted. So I made up an award with a nice cert and all. My LT said I could not do that, told him how many times did I have to hit him over the head with my Anchor until he figured out that a Navy Chief can do anything. We presented award to our Brother in the Mess and meant more to him than almost every award he ever recieved. We all know which ones count, too bad there so many that do not.

  23. cato says:

    Earthly rewards and honors are for the living.

    Sgt. Rafael Peralta is standing guard at the gates of Heaven with John “Manila Jonn” BASILONE,Pappy Boyington and all other Marine heroes who serve in God’s Battalion. No greater reward or honor exists.

  24. CBSenior says:

    @23 More than that, they are the Halls of Montezuma and the Shores of Tripoli. The never ending Chain of Marines and their names will forever be spoken. Always remembered

  25. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    No doubt SGT Peralta is standing watch at the gates of heaven.

    In addition and considering how he DID give his life for his men, he is most probably Saint Peter’s personal attache and ensures the keys are secure each night.

    There is a special place in heaven for all like this good SGT!

  26. AF MSgt says:

    This Washington Times article says that seven (Yes SEVEN!) witnesses state they saw him scoop the grenade underneath him. It seems the main sticking point was the couldn’t agree which arm it was.


  27. David says:

    I was going to support the Pentagon decision until I read the article… at first glance I thought the headline said Panetta.

  28. USMCE8Ret says:

    Here is the SUMMARY OF ACTION, for those who care to read it:

    Enemy condition: Insurgent groups occupying vacant buildings throughout the city operating primarily in 4-8 man cells. Insurgent tactics varied from actively seeking out and engaging coalition forces to remaining dormant inside
    buildings until coalition forces entered the building. When contact was forced by coalition forces, insurgents generally fought from fortified positions inside houses, using automatic weapons and grenades and attempted to flee after
    inflicting casualties on the first coalition forces to enter the building. Insurgents were supplied via weapons and food caches pre-positioned throughout the city.

    Friendly condition: Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/3 attacked in zone during the initial assault on Fallujah from 8 thru 10 November. Upon reaching its limit of advance, BLT 1/3 established company sectors and conducted search and
    attack operations throughout its tactical area of responsibility (TAOR).

    Operating independently, each company of BLT 1/3 came into contact with insurgent forces on a daily basis to include the day of 15 November 2004. BLT 1/3 also began psychological operations on 11 November 2004 to encourage
    insurgents to surrender; these operations were conducted in conjunction with humanitarian aid operations at the Mujahareen and Al Haydra Mosques.

    Narrative Description of Gallant Conduct

    Sergeant Rafael (NMI) Peralta is enthusiastically recommended for the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Platoon Guide, 1st Platoon, Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1/3, Regimental Combat Team 7(-)(Reinforced), 1st Marine Division(-) (Reinforced) in action against Anti-Coalition Forces in the City of Fallujah, Iraq, 15 November 2004, during Operation Phantom Fury/Al Fajr.

    At approximately 0830, Sergeant Peralta was conducting search and attack operations with 2d Squad, 1st Platoon. The squad was clearing their seventh house of the day. Sergeant Peralta was augmenting 2d Squad because they were short personnel due to recently sustained casualties. Sergeant Peralta was positioned in the center of the squad between the first and second fire teams as they prepared to enter the house. The squad met no resistance during their initial entry into the house and cleared the front rooms without incident. The door to the back rooms of the house was closed. The squad staged for entry into the back rooms with Sergeant Peralta positioned behind the point man. As the point man pushed open the door, the squad immediately came under a heavy volume of close-range automatic weapons fire from multiple insurgents located in the back rooms. The squad instantaneously returned fire, wounding one of the insurgents. As the squad sought cover, Sergeant Peralta was shot in the head as he attempted to maneuver out of the line of fire. Sergeant Peralta fell to the ground, still attempting to speak, though his words were unintelligible.

    After the initial exchange of gunfire, the insurgents broke contact, throwing a fragmentation grenade towards the Marines as the insurgents fled the building. The grenade bounced off the side of a couch and came to rest approximately one foot away from Sergeant Peralta’s head. The grenade lay between Sergeant Peralta and other members of the squad. Though mortally wounded, Sergeant Peralta, with out hesitation, reached out and scooped the grenade under him and used his body to bear the brunt of the explosion, shielding other Marines of the squad who were only feet away. The grenade exploded underneath Sergeant Peralta with his body absorbing most of the blast. Other members of the squad near by received only minor shrapnel wounds from the explosion.

    Sergeant Peralta was immediately medevaced via amphibious assault vehicle but succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead at 0915, 15 November 2004 while en route to Bravo Surgical Company. Sergeant Peralta’s gallant leadership, bravery and unwavering dedication to duty and to his fellow Marines distinguish his conduct as above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant Peralta’s willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the lives of his comrades reflected great credit upon him and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marines Corps and the
    United States Naval Service. For his actions he is worthy of being decorated with the Medal of Honor.

  29. 2-17 Air Cav says:

    @15. Well, JA, in view of the report in comment 28, if the well intentioned merely wanted to put Sergeant Peralta in the best possible light, they did a helluva job. The light reveals a wounded Marine whose last act on this Earth was to save others from harm.