A Hero in Fallujah
December 16th, 2004
stuff you hear about in boot camp, about World
War II and Tarawa Marines who won the Medal of
Honor," Lance Corporal Rob Rogers of the 1st
Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment told the Army
Times. Corporal Rogers was describing the
actions of his fellow Marine, Sgt. Rafael
Peralta, a Mexican immigrant who enlisted in the
Marine Corps the day he received his green card.
Most readers of this column probably haven't
heard about Rafael Peralta. With the exception
of the Los Angeles Times, most of our mainstream
media haven't bothered to write about him. The
next time you log onto the Internet, do a Google
search on Rafael Peralta. As of this writing,
the Internet's most used search engine will
provide you with only 26 citations from news
sources that have bothered to write about this
heroic young man.
Then, just for giggles, do a Google search on
Pablo Paredes. Hundreds of media outlets have
written about him. The wire services have
blasted his story to thousands of newspapers.
Television and radio debate programs gladly
provide the public with talking heads that can
speak eloquently on the actions of Pablo Paredes.
You see, Pablo Paredes, a Navy Petty Officer 3rd
Class, did something the liberal elites consider
"heroic" and the media consider "newsworthy" -
he defied an order. Last week, Paredes refused
to board his ship bound for Iraq along with
5,000 other sailors and Marines. He showed up on
the pier wearing a black tee shirt that read,
``Like a Cabinet member, I resign.''
We know this because Petty Officer Pablo Paredes
had the courtesy and forethought to notify the
local media that he would commit an act of
cowardice the following day. Perhaps he hoped to
follow the lead of another famous war protestor
who went on to become a U.S. Senator and his
party's presidential nominee by throwing away
his military medals.
Petty Officer Paredes stopped short of trashing
his military I.D. in front of the cameras
because he said he didn't want to be charged
with the destruction of government property. The
media, we are promised, will continue to follow
this story intently.
It is a shame that the media focus on such acts
when they could tell stories about real heroes
like Rafael Peralta who "saved the life of my
son and every Marine in that room," according to
Garry Morrison the father of a Marine in
Peralta's unit - Lance Cpl. Adam Morrison.
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
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.
Yes, Virginia, there are still heroes in
America, and Sgt. Rafael Peralta was one of
them. It's just too bad the media can't