December 20, 2004
Hero in Falluja
For some reason Rusty gave me the reigns to this ride while he's on vacation. In an effort to republish a story I originally published at In The Bullpen because of it's importance, I present to you the story of Sgt. Rafael Peralta. There are very few stories that move me, perhaps because of the often-boring written word, but this story is simply amazing.
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.
Sgt. Rafael Peralta was the polar opposite of Pablo Paredes, the Petty Officer who turned his back on his shipmates and mocked his commander in chief. 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."
Unfortunately, unlike Pablo Paredes, Sgt. Rafael Peralta will get little media coverage. He is unlikely to have books written about him or movies made about his extraordinarily selfless sacrifice. But he is likely to receive the Medal of Honor. And that Medal of Honor is likely to be displayed next to the only items that hung on his bedroom wall - the Constitution, Bill of Rights and his Boot Camp graduation certificate.
The entire article questions why the media has focused more attention on the soldier who went AWOL rather than a soldier such as Sgt. Peralta who is a true hero. These are the types of actions I do not know how humans are capable of. Even though Peralta's family is assuredly mourning the death of Sgt. Peralta, they should hold their heads up high for raising a hero.
The MSM should be ashamed of itself for not publishing such a story. This is the type of story that inspires greatness and heroism in every single person, not just the soldier fighting a war most of the MSM is against. We should all give thanks for heroes like Sgt. Peralta.
Stop by the The Enduring Freedom KIA Fund and help support the families of our other heroes who have fallen. The Christmas season is a time for generosity. We should show our nation's loved ones how generous we as a nation are and how much we sincerely appreciate the sacrifices made by so few. Read the memorial to CSM James D. Blankenbecler for inspiration.
For another inspiring story in Iraq, you must read this on Little Green Footballs.