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Jan 14 2005

HERO: Sgt. Rafael Peralta

124rafaelperalta.jpgI've been meaning to post this for almost two months now. Better late than never, it is the story of a true hero:

On the morning of November 15, 2004, the men of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines awoke before sunrise and continued what they had been doing for seven days previously - cleansing the city of Fallujah of terrorists house by house.

At the fourth house they encountered that morning the Marines kicked in the door and "cleared" the front rooms, but then noticed a locked door off to the side that required inspection. Sgt. Rafael Peralta threw open the closed door, but behind it were three terrorists with AK-47s. Peralta was hit in the head and chest with multiple shots at close range.

Peralta's fellow Marines had to step over his body to continue the shootout with the terrorists. As the firefight raged on, a "yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped grenade," as Lance Corporal Travis Kaemmerer described it, rolled into the room where they were all standing and came to a stop near Peralta's body.

But Sgt. Rafael Peralta wasn't dead - yet. This young immigrant of 25 years, who enlisted in the Marines when he received his green card, who volunteered for the front line duty in Fallujah, had one last act of heroism in him.

Peralta was proud to serve his adopted country. In his parent's home, on his bedroom walls hung only three items - a copy of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and his boot camp graduation certificate. Before he set out for Fallujah, he wrote to his 14-year old brother, "be proud of me, bro...and be proud of being an American."

Not only can Rafael's family be proud of him, but his fellow Marines are alive because of him. As Sgt. Rafael Peralta lay near death on the floor of a Fallujah terrorist hideout, he spotted the yellow grenade that had rolled next to his near-lifeless body. Once detonated, it would take out the rest of Peralta's squad. To save his fellow Marines, Peralta reached out, grabbed the grenade, and tucked it under his abdomen where it exploded.

"Most of the Marines in the house were in the immediate area of the grenade," Cpl. Kaemmerer said. "We will never forget the second chance at life that Sgt. Peralta gave us."

Posted by Don |

34 Comments

  1. Great story. Nice to read a story about true heroism. Feel sorry for his family, but at least they can be proud.

  2. #2
    Rsc said on January 14, 2005 | Reply

    It's sad to see how many young lives are being cut off in this war and it's also sad to see that these guys are sent to death just to justify a war that shouldn't have begun.

  3. #3
    Don said on January 14, 2005 | Reply

    You say that it is, "sad to see how many young lives are being cut off in this war." I agree, but there is nothing different about this war as such is inherent in any and all wars. War is indescribably horrible. There is no nice, clean, polite war. When the UN and Congress authorized war and the President first sent our brave troops, it was an absolute that many of our finest would be lost, that civilians would die, that horrible things would happen.

    I also agree that it is, "a war that shouldn't have begun." Again, that is the nature of all wars. None of them should begin. Although, I think you and I would disagree on when it began. I say that Saddam should never have gassed his own citizens, the Kurds, with weapons of mass destruction. He never should have murdered, tortured and raped, tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. He never should have paid rewards to terrorist suicide bomber families. He never should have sought out the ability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. He never should have prevented the inspectors from inspecting his weapon sites thus giving the world, including France, Germany, the rest of the EU, the Clinton administration, and Bush, the impression that he currently had weapons of mass destruction. He never should have violated seventeen UN mandates. Iraq never should have been a terrorist friendly nation.

    These actions and more "started" the war. The U.S.'s reaction was simply a caring nation doing what it can to put a stop to it all instead of sitting around talking and passing more worthless resolutions while even more innocents died and to prevent potentially unimaginable numbers from dieing in the future.

  4. The word hero is used far too often. Its value has been diminished as a result.

    But Sgt. Peralta is a TRUE HERO in every sense, sacrificing his own life, which might, after all, have been saved, for the lives of his fellow soldiers.

  5. #5
    rio said on January 14, 2005 | Reply

    Gives me the chills to read that such a thing happened. And while I do not want to get into politics I can only point one finger to whom this loss of so valuable a life can be attributed. God bless him and his family, for they know his good deed will not go unseen by the world.

  6. #6
    Don said on January 14, 2005 | Reply

    "I can only point one finger to whom this loss of so valuable a life can be attributed."

    We've got him in custody, he will have a fair trial and, God willing, justice will be served.

  7. This gave me chills

  8. Great story. It's like something out of Why Courage Matters by John McCain.

    Don, the UN never gave approval for the war so you can't say it was a combined decision between Congress and the UN. Your too political on this story. Take the story for what's it worth.

  9. #9
    Jim Price said on January 17, 2005 | Reply

    What state was Sgt. Peralta from. A group of us vets are writing state senators and congressmen about this.

  10. #10
    Don said on January 18, 2005 | Reply

    Multiple sources list Sgt. Rafael Peralta as being from San Diego, California. (FYI, I have also emailed Mr. Price with this information.)

  11. #11
    Cpl Stephen P. Lara said on January 19, 2005 | Reply

    Good day to all...

    Sergeant Rafael Peralta was a very close friend of mine, I was stationed with him at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego for about 2 years. He is a Native Mexican from Tijuana, and later received his U. S. citizenship after becoming a United States Marine. A True "Marines, Marine" he was, even out of uniform. He will be greatly missed by many, especially myself... please pass his story on, and remember that it is for men like him that allow you to live your life in the LAND OF THE FREE. God Bless...

  12. #12
    Jeff said on January 22, 2005 | Reply

    Very good story. We need to hear more news like that.

  13. #13
    Brenda and Eduardo Saldivar said on January 28, 2005 | Reply

    Sgt Rafael Peralta was a really close friend of ours .All three of us ( Sgt Peralta, Rafael, Cpl SaldivarLopez, Eduardo, and Sgt Saldivar, Brenda) were station together in Hawaii. He would spend his off time at our house and planned alot of stuff for when he came back from Iraq. He had our un born babys 1st birthday party all planned . He wanted the party to be held at his favorite mexican restaurant named Mexico Lindo. He was a very happy person , loved to dance and spend time with friends. We were so happy knowing we had a good person on our side. We organized his last birthday party with several other friends at our house . Also we had organized his good bye party the day he went on deployment. We know for a fact that Rafa is happy were ever he is at and of course he is surrounded by his love ones which include his dad and his girl-friend. May god bless our hero Sgt Peralta. He knows we loved him and will always miss his presence.

  14. #14
    god bless you said on January 30, 2005 | Reply

    I still can't live knowing he is gone. I miss him alot. we love you Peralta.

  15. #15
    Rae said on February 2, 2005 | Reply

    Wow. Amazing act of selflessness. Kinda puts our everyday drama into perspective.

  16. Sgt. Rafael Peralta epitomizes the values that make America the greatest nation on earth.
    His actions and life represent the very things that have made America the defender of freedom.
    It sounds like those whiny parasites would have preferred if we had taken some of the oil for food money and looked the other way while Saddam continued to kill tens of thoudsands of innocents.
    I am appalled when I read the posts that instead of acknowledging the true greatness of this American Hero, they point fingers and place blame.
    They sicken me.
    In WWII, there were heros whose similar stories reminded us of what is good in this world. Those stories gave us hope to a nation that watched our men die fighting for the freedom of the people of Europe, and the people of the Pacific countries imprisoned by the Japanese.
    Apparently now we live in a world where heroic acts such as these are viewed with cynicism and scorn.
    Those of you who offer any less than gratitude and admiration for this Great American Hero, Sgt. Rafael Peralta, are unpatriotic slime who belong in those countries where cowardice and appeasement are now welcomed and encouraged.
    (Like France, Spain, and Germany.)
    I beg you,please leave our country and do your part to make America a better place.

  17. #17
    Eduardo and Brenda Saldivar said on April 4, 2005 | Reply

    My name is Eduardo Saldivarlopez, one of Rafa's close friends from MCBH. It feels as though rafa is still alive; we all still remember him as if he were here with us this very moment. it is still hard for me to accept the fact that a real friend has past away close to 5 months already, it is really hard to let go somebody this close, i still wait for rafa's old unit thinking rafa will show up and all this would be like a terrible nightmare, but then reality hits and that makes me really sad. I cant imagine what his family is still feeling for this loss. Know that my home is always open for the Peralta family and i offer my help in anything you might need; thank you so much for receiving us at your home sorry we had to meet each other for this sad reasons,but know that we are here for you. God bless you Rafa for everything u did for us, our prayers will always be with you and your family.

  18. #18
    SSgt Frank Heilig said on April 7, 2005 | Reply

    If every American had a tenth of the courage, commitment, and love of our great country, imagine what we could accomplish. God Bless you Brother, I look forward to saluting you when I get to Heaven, God willing. Semper Fidelis, Devil Dog!
    A story every American should hear about.

  19. This is a wonderful story! Jeff Jacoby on Townhall.com highlighted this story today (Memorial Day), and when I searched for a link to a picture of this hero, I found your page. See my blog for the short piece, where I also linked to your page.

    God bless our heros in uniform. No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for a friend. We thank you and we love you.

  20. #20
    PO1, Jaime Rios , U.S.N. said on June 20, 2005 | Reply

    Never met him or herd of him , but his actions clearly speak for themselves. SGT Peralta , a true American Hero in it's purest meaning. Let his name not be in vane or his actions be forgotten in a media frenzy that spins thier own news for their own profit. SEMPER FI!!!, SGT Peralta, for I can only stand in awe of your heroism and patriotism to our great country. May you rest in peace and GOD protect your fellow comrades in arms.

    Sincerely,
    Petty Officer 1st Class Jaime Rios, United States Navy.

  21. #21
    Michael Silva said on September 11, 2005 | Reply

    I wish I could have met this great man.
    It is a man like Sgt. Peralta that makes me remember that my freedom is not free, but is earned through hard work and sacrifice by those like Sgt. Peralta.
    A giver to others, a leader, A true American.

  22. #22
    Taylor said on July 11, 2006 | Reply

    I am personally greatfull for the selfless act of Sgt Peralta, because if it weren't for him I would have never met my recruiter Sgt Jones. Sgt Jones, a corporal back then was one of the Marines in Sgt Peralta's squad saved by Peralta. Sgt Jones suffered shrapnel wounds to the back of his legs, he is extremely greatfull for the acts of Sgt Peralta, because if it hadn't been for him, he wouldnt be here today.

    Semper Fidelis Sergeant Peralta

    All Gave Some, Some Gave All

  23. #23
    Skid,PETTY OFFICER 3RD CLASS, U.S. Navy said on July 27, 2006 | Reply

    It is people like SGT Peralta that make freedom possible. I did not know the man, but after reading his story and seeing how his closest friends hold him up still, I feel a loss in my heart for not knowing him. It is a shame that his story will never make it to the mainstream media. All too many Americans have no comprehension of what freedom is. Thank you to him and all who serve for going into harms way. I can only hope to raise my sons to be half the men that SGT Peralta sounds to be.

    Thank you.

  24. #24
    Don said on August 2, 2006 | Reply

    I was contacted today by a representative of the History Channel who is doing research for an upcoming one hour documentary honoring the valor of Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Filming is expected to start in a few week with airing an unknown time thereafter.

    I was contacted because of the terrific response I've had to one of my posts about Sgt. Rafael Peralta. I exchanged a dozen emails and had a half-hour telephone conversation with the representative and was able to supply her with quite a bit of information she did not have previously.

    The representative agreed to let me post her name and contact information so that any friends or family members of Sgt. Peralta could contact her. If you knew Sgt. Peralta before he gave his life for our country and you are reading this during the month of August 2006 and you would like to contribute video footage, pictures or stories to the documentary, please contact:

    Allison Wurthmann
    (212) 210-1400, ext. 5343
    Allison.Wurthmann-at-aetn.com

  25. #25
    Cpl Joshua Eggert said on August 6, 2006 | Reply

    Rafael Peralta was a very good friend of mine back when we were both stationed at MCRD San Diego. We met during GSF training at Camp Pendleton, something everybody felt was useless at the time. One morning myself and Cpl Stephen Lara, who mentions Rafael above, noticed him sitting by himself at a table in the chowhall crying. We went over to talk to him and he showed us the front page of the newspaper with a Marine on the cover, this Marine had facial wounds and the picture was taken in the Baghdad International Airport. Rafael told us that this was one of his Marines from his last unit, which just happened to be in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. He was upset because he was sitting at a table eating morning chow, and his own Marine's were in Iraq fighting for the freedom of Iraq's citizens, and he was not there to have their back. We went back to the barracks where Rafael proceeded to show us an annual from that same last unit and the battle group he was attached to at the time. For the rest of the day Rafael kept to himself, he was a quiet person, he cared about everybody, and especially, he cared about every Marine. He would do anything for anybody, he was also one of the only Marine's I knew who would voice that Jesus was his savior, was everybody's savior. When I read about what happened in 2005, I picked up the phone and called Stephen Lara, we did not know what had fully happened yet, but we both knew he was the type of person that would give his life for anybody. Rafael was a very well respected man, by everybody who knew him. Even though I have not seen him for over 2 years, everything about him is burned into my memory, all the way down to his stupid 0311 tatoo on his arm, which he loved to show off. The last time I was near Rafael was December 3, 2005, which was the day I left the Marine Corps to return to civilian life. Behind me was the view of downtown San Diego and the harbor, a view I know he would enjoy. I miss my friend, and I look forward to the day we will meet again in Heaven. Even though it has been nearly two years, my condolences go out to his family, and especially his mother. His character could only be a direct reflection of the way you raised him and the way you are yourself. You gave many people a wonderful friend. God bless.

  26. #26
    PEDRO LOPEZ JR. VET. USAF said on December 3, 2006 | Reply

    FOUND THE STORY OF SGT. RAFAEL PERALTA, WHEN I WAS RESEACHING THE CONTRIBUTIONS AND PARTICIPATION OF HISPANICS IN AMERICA'S WARS FROM THE REVOLUTIONARY YEARS TO DATE.
    THERE HAS BEEN AN HISPANIC IN EVERY WAR THIS NATION HAS FOUGHT, FROM THE BEGINING!

    IT IS AN HONOR TO LEARN A BIT WHO HE WAS AND IS, A HERO TO US ALL. SGT.RAFAEL PERALTA IS IN THE RANKS OF WARRIORS WHO GAVE IT ALL, TO MAKE THE USA THE GREAT COUNTRY IT IS......MUCHAS GRACIAS RAFAEL.

  27. #27
    Chad R Erickson said on May 19, 2007 | Reply

    I give my warm thoughts to Sgt. Rafael Peralta and to his people. I would that our borders had arms open in welcome and equlity to such.

  28. #28
    Donna said on September 25, 2007 | Reply

    Do you know how to get in touch with Mrs. Rosa Peralta and the family of Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta? We'd like to invite them to a War Memorial Ceremony on October 20, 9.30-10.30 am. We'd recognize the family. They'd be in the audience and they'd stand. The ceremony is to recognize the young fallen Aztecs who attended SDSU before they sacrificed their lives for their country. Please e-mail or call us at 619-594-2586. Maybe you can pass this on to the family. The event is free and everyone is invited to attend. Thank you.

  29. #29
    Brenda Saldivar said on November 15, 2007 | Reply

    Hola Rafa, se q estas bien yo aqui en casa con mi walito y los cuates, walo en Iraq . Pero gracias a Dios todos bien. Sabes ya son 3 anos q me hablo Rodrigues para desirme q avias muerto . No lo crei y tuve q checar y si con noticia q si era sierto. Lo primero q ise fui a hablar con walo y fue la peor noticia. Combramos los boletos y nos fuimos a la casa de tu familia. Ayi platicamos con tu familia y luego nos fuimos a tu velorio. Ayi estuvimos y te vimos y platicamos con tigo ayi estaba mijo mi Walito (el scrappy) . Tu dejastes muchos recuerdos bonitos en nuestra familia. Siempre recordamos lo q pasamos contigo, Torrez, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Chavo, y Guyzik. Esos tiempos cuanto quiesieramos q nunca ubieran pasado. Pero esa es la vida. Nunca va hacer lo mismo sin ti. Nunca olvides q siempre vas a tener unos amigos en nosotros. Siempre te recordaremos y tenremos en nuestros recuerdos. En tu memoria sabes el cuates se llama Rafael ya q walito avia nacido pero el Rafita se llama arturo rafael . Bueno pues espero q algun dia estaremos todos juntos como en Hawaii. Uno muy pocas veces conose buenos amigos pero tamien muy pocos se van . Tu nos dejastes muy pronto pero sabes pienso q tuvimos una amistad muy corta pero sincera y una amistad muy padre gracias a mi esposo te conoci y supe q significa una amistad. Hasta ahorrita te puedo decir q los unicos amigos q yo tengo son los amigos q conoci por Walo q son ustedes. Torrez, Sanchez, Eddie , Chavo y el Guyzik. Y bueno tambien los q yo conoci en mi trabajo. Pero ustedes son como parte de nuestra familia. Te extranamos muchisimo y siempre te recordamos. Recibe muchos saludos de todos aca recuerdo el ultimo cumple anos q pasamos en mi casa. Cuidate y cuidanos tambien a nosotros a mi Amor q esta ahorra en Iraq. Ahorra yo le pregunto a Dios porq se lleva las buenas personas . TE EXTRANAMOS MUCHO Rafa.


    Brenda. Walo , Walito, Brendita Adamary, Y Arturo Rafael Saldivar

  30. #30
    Susan Pattee said on November 18, 2007 | Reply

    My husband is a retired Marine. He was wounded in Viet Nam. He gets to speak on a radio station 98.3WOWFM in Des Moines, Iowa once a month and he always profiles soldiers. He wants the world to know of the great services performed and courage displayed by these men and women for our country. He does this for free as a way to educate the mass's, so to speak. If you could contact him at susanpattee@aol.com you can leave your message or he can contact you. We have been researching Sgt Peralta but would like to have personal accounts with your permission to discuss them on air. Thank all of you for your service and God bless you.

    John and Susan Pattee

  31. #31
    Brenda Saldivar said on April 7, 2008 | Reply

    Happy Birthday Rafael , another year has passed by and you are still in our hearts and mind. You will never be forgotten. Your story will always be told by us to our family members. We will never forget all those fun times we had in Hawaii. God may take the good people but one day we will al be together. God bless your family always. Happy Birthday Marine.

    Miss you,

    The Saldivar Family

  32. #32
    Brenda Saldivar said on September 8, 2008 | Reply

    Rafael ,
    Solo te queria pasar a escribirte unas cuantas lineas para desirte que todavia no nos hemos olvidado de ti. Que siempre nos acordamos de ti y te tenemos en nuestros pensamientos. Recibe saludos de todos .

    Brenda Saldivar

  33. #33
    JACK SMITH said on September 18, 2008 | Reply

    WHAT A SACRIFICE MADE BY THIS MARINE.THE OFFICIAL REPORT SAID HIS WOUNDS WERE FROM FRIENDLY FIRE.TO ME THIS ONLY BRINGS BACK THE CONFUSION IN THE FOG OF BATTLE.NO MATTER WHERE THE ROUNDS CAME FROM HE DIED A TRUE HERO.TODAY'S PUBLIC USE THAT TERM (HERO) TO FREELY. ALL WHO SERVE AND ALL WHO FIGHT ARE NOT HEROES. JUST ASK US AND ANY OF THE SERVICES.THE COMMENTS OF HIS FAMILY THAT THEY WERE UPSET HE DID NOT RECEIVE THE MEDAL OF HONOR, IF TRUE ARE DISTURBING TO ME AS A FELLOW COMBAT WOUNDED AND RECIPIENT OF THE MARINE CORPS BRONZE STAR WITH COMBAT "V" MARINE.THE AWARDS ARE SUCH AN HONOR FOR ANY SERVICEMAN TO GET IS BEYOND WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE PRIDE AND TEARS WE ALL HOLD INSIDE.NOT ONE OF MY FELLOW MARINES FEEL LIKE HEROES.WE WERE SENT TO DO A JOB. WE SIGNED UP FOR AND HAPPENED TO BE IN A PLACE TO HELP OUR COMRADES IN ARMS.THIS HERO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE WITH HIS LIFE FOR HIS FELLOW MARINES AND GOD AND COUNTY.THE CIVILIAN FOLKS SHOULD REMEMBER THESE AWARDS BESTOWED ARE NOT "WON, THEY ARE NOT PRIZES."THEY ARE NOT "REWARDS" WE DID NOT MAKE THESE SACRIFICES TO GET REWARDED" WE JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE THE HONOR TO BE ABLE TO GIVE OF OURSELVES TO DO WHAT OUR TRAINING,OUR GOD, OUR CORP, OUR FELLOW SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN, AND OUR COUNTRY, OUR DUTY DID OR DID NOT CALL FOR.HIS PARENTS AND FAMILY SHOULD NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HIS AWARD. MY GOD "THE NAVY CROSS" OUR COUNTRY'S 2ND HIGHEST AWARD FOR VALOR.THE SGT. WOULD NOT CLAIM TO BE A HERO OR WANT ANY AWARD FOR DOING THIS UNSELFISH DEED.PERALTA FAMILY, BE PROUD OF YOUR SON,THE REST OF THE COUNTRY IS. CAPT JACK, USMC VIET NAM VET.

  34. #34
    mikeinfl said on September 19, 2008 | Reply

    After seeing this story on yahoo homepage I called the Marine Corps and and the Whitehouse voiced my opinion , this man deservse nothing less then the Medal of Honor. Its sad when people sit on there butts in Washington D.C where its safe and judge what people should or should not recieve. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for his buddies and fellow Marines. I feel sorry for his mom in having to put up with the politics of Washington D.C and for the loss of her son.

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