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Medal of Honor case might hinge on video

By Associated Press


SAN DIEGO » Federal lawmakers announced Thursday they have obtained information previously unavailable to military investigators that proves the Navy should not have disqualified a Marine from being posthumously awarded America's highest military honor.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter said his office sent a formal request from the area's congressional delegation to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus urging him to reconsider Sgt. Rafael Peralta for the Medal of Honor in a last-ditch effort before the deadline ends. Four other San Diego-area representatives and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer also signed the letter.

After a scientific panel examined the forensic evidence at the time, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates decided to award Peralta the Navy Cross instead of the Medal of Honor based on the conclusion that the Marine, who suffered a head wound, was not conscious when his body smothered a grenade in Iraq in 2004, saving other Marines from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, from Kane­ohe Bay.

Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said the congressman has obtained a video of the battle action and a newly released report by a forensic pathologist that proves Peralta was conscious and intentionally pulled the grenade under his body.

The Defense Department's conclusion contradicts the Marine Corps' report and the accounts of seven witnesses who saw Peralta pull the grenade to himself, Hunter said.

Kasper said the congressman sent the Navy the report by forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent Di Maio, who concluded, "Taking into account the circumstances surrounding the incident: the statements of the witnesses; the condition of the body armor; the autopsy findings; the opinion of the neurosurgeons and neurologist and my own experience with head wounds, it is my opinion that, in all medical probability, Sgt. Peralta was not immediately incapacitated by the brain injury, and in fact reached for the grenade and pulled it under his body."

The Navy secretary's spokes­woman, Capt. Pamela Kunze, said Mabus will review the letter and "respond appropriately."

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Ronin006 wrote:
What is this nonsense about a deadline? There are none. Awards of Medals of Honor and other military awards have been made 60 or more years after the acts of valor.
on March 2,2012 | 08:39AM
cojef wrote:
Yes, why should there be a deadline?? How callous of the people making the determination. No brainer, forensic video is prove poitive. Being Hispanic may be the reason it is taking so long? Too long in my book.
on March 2,2012 | 12:01PM
Ronin006 wrote:
I disagree with Peralta being Hispanic as the reason it is taking so long. His recommendation for the Medal of Honor was given a very careful and thorough review by Department of Defense and it was determine the evidence did not support award of our nation's highest honor. Unfortunately, politicians have entered the fray and think they know better than the professionals at Department of Defense. They want the Navy Cross awarded to SGT Perlata to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor because, I believe, he would be the first immigrant from Mexico to receive the Medal of Honor which would play well with Hispanics in this election year. That may be the deadline mentioned in the story. Politicians need to stay out of it to keep the award military instead of political.
on March 2,2012 | 04:21PM
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