Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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New Navy Destroyer Named for Local Hero

On Saturday, the U.S. Navy commissioned its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, which weighs in at 9,250-tons and cost $1.5 billion to build.

The USS Rafael Peralta was named for Sgt. Rafael Peralta.  Peralta was a Marine who died in 2004 in Iraq during the second battle of Fallujah in an act that saved the lives of his fellow Marines.

Sgt. Peralta was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by his parents when he was a child and enlisted in the Marines the day he received his green card.

On Nov. 15, 2004, Peralta, volunteered to lead a scout team for "Lava Company", A Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, to clear buildings of insurgents in the area.  While they were clearing one of the houses, they came under fire.  Peralta was hit multiple times in the head and chest, with what has been described as 'mortal wounds' and as he fell to the floor, a grenade landed near him. Peralta, still conscious, grabbed the grenade and pulled it UNDER his body, absorbing the blast and saving the lives of his fellow Marines.  

Peralta was just 25-years-old.

As a result of his actions, Peralta was nominated for the Medal of Honor.However, some questioned Peralta's ability to clutch the grenade to his chest in a 'voluntary act' and instead said it was an 'involuntary act', which they said wouldn't rise to the level needed to receive the Medal of Honor.  

The seven Marines present at the time Peralta died dispute those findings.

Subsequently, the Medal of Honor request was denied by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  Gates instead honored Peralta with the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest award for bravery on the battlefield.  

The ceremony on Saturday officially put the destroyer into active service.

#RIP Sgt. Peralta.  Thank You For Your Service.

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