Fallen Marine, Sgt. Rafael Peralta, Denied Medal of Honor

Witnesses to Peralta's death have pushed competing claims over whether the Marine actually committed an act of heroism in his last moments.

Fallen Marine, Sgt. Rafael Peralta, Denied Medal of Honor
U.S. Marine Corps

After a nearly six-year-long battle, another setback for a San Diego Marine killed in Iraq. Friday U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel announced he will not reconsider Sgt. Rafael Peralta for a Medal of Honor nomination. 

Peralta died in 2004 while clearing houses in Fallujah. An immigrant from Mexico, he reportedly joined the military the day he got his green card. (Via KNSD)

"Peralta's supporters say he threw himself on a live grenade in Fallujah, saving other folks in his group. But the Pentagon says there are several witnesses that say that didn't actually happen." (Via KUSI)

One of those witnesses is Davi Allen. He told The Washington Post, "he watched [the grenade blast] detonate near, but not underneath, Peralta. 'I knew it’s not the truth. But who wants to be the one to tell a family: ‘Your son was not a hero’?'”

After Peralta's death, the coroner's report claimed he was already dead from an apparent gunshot wound before he fell. Years ago it was also determined Peralta actually fell somewhere between 6 to 10 feet from the blast rather than directly on top of it. 

The Pentagon released a statement Friday, saying, "After extensively familiarizing himself with the history of Sgt. Peralta's nomination, Secretary Hagel determined the totality of the evidence does not meet the 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt' Medal of Honor award standard." But Peralta's memory has still been honored. (Via USA Today

"After he was killed, the 25-year-old Marines was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest medal for valor in combat." (Via KSWB)

Also, last year the Navy and Marine Corps named a destroyer after Peralta. Friday's news would make Hagel the third Secretary of Defense to deny Peralta a Medal of Honor nomination.