On Nov. 15, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah, USMC Sgt. Rafael Peralta was killed. A number of the Marines who were with him say they saw him grab a grenade and smother it with his body in order to protect them (and others).
Nevertheless, former Sec. of Defense Robert Gates would only award Peralta the Marine's Navy Cross posthumously, and Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta refuses to upgrade the Navy Cross to a Medal of Honor.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is outraged by Panetta's decision, especially given the fact that other Marines saw Peralta's bravery -- some of whom remember seeing Peralta reach for the grenade and all of whom remember him smothering it with his body.
Here's what Rep. Hunter told Breitbart News:
Eye witness accounts have always been the standard for determining Medal of Honor recipients. In this case, four Marines saw Peralta grab the grenade with his right arm. A fifth said his left arm while two others didn't say anything about a hand or an arm. In the end, seven witnesses in total said he reached for the grenade and smothered it. The idea that a review [by Sec. Penatta] years after the fact, can invalidate these accounts is unthinkable.
Both the Marine Corps and the Navy have recommend the Medal of Honor for Peralta's bravery, but Panetta is holding to a shred of doubt which Rep. Hunter claims was "manufactured by Gates," embodied in a theory that Peralta wasn't conscious when the grenade exploded, thus his body may have been put over the grenade.
However, Rep. Hunter has video footage and a new forensics report which he says proves what everyone already knew before Gates planted the doubt: namely, that Peralta was a hero who acted intentionally to save the lives of his fellow Marines.
Hunter says it is time to award the Medal of Honor.