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Panetta denies Medal of Honor for Kaneohe Marine hero

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:15 p.m. HST, Dec 12, 2012

SAN DIEGO >> The secretary of defense has denied a request to upgrade a fallen Kaneohe Marine's Navy Cross to the Medal of Honor, a San Diego congressman's office said today.

The Pentagon told Rep. Duncan Hunter it supports the decision of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who honored Sgt. Rafael Peralta with the Navy Cross instead of the military's highest honor.

Peralta, a member of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, was not conscious when his body smothered a grenade in Iraq during the second battle of Fallujah in 2004, saving the lives of other Kaneohe Marines, Gates ruled in 2008.

The case was reopened this year after Hunter obtained a video of the battle action and a new forensics report. The lawmaker said the new evidence proved Peralta's actions were intentional.

But defense officials found the new evidence was not sufficient to change the decision, said Joe Kasper, Hunter's spokesman.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Nate Christensen said he could not discuss the case, citing Defense Department policy to not comment on Medal of Honor nominations under consideration.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told reporters during a visit to Camp Pendleton last week that he had recommended Peralta be honored with the Medal of Honor.

Peralta's family was informed of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's decision today, Kasper said.

Hunter's office told them the congressman, a former combat Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, would continue to fight to get the medal upgraded.

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scooters wrote:
The "President" needs to show some GUT's and over ride this decision and do the right thing. This Marine should have been awarded the MOH from the beginning. Semper Fi Marine...
on December 12,2012 | 01:54PM
kahu808 wrote:
Your comments shows you lack of knowledge of the PROCESS that is used to award a MOH.
on December 12,2012 | 04:04PM
Holomua wrote:
First the Heisman, and now......
on December 12,2012 | 03:07PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
He gave his life for fellow marines..... He deserves better.
on December 12,2012 | 03:51PM
false wrote:
A stellar example of the people who surround Obama. A bunch of petty losers.
on December 12,2012 | 04:07PM
SaySomethingNow wrote:
"His fellow Marines say Peralta saved their lives by grabbing a grenade and putting it under his body, shielding the blast from them." If his fellow Marines had no doubt of is actions, why would the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense doubt their word? Is it that difficult to acknowledge the brave and selfless final act of courage of this individual? Hmmmm... maybe it's not in their budget to do the right thing.
on December 12,2012 | 04:08PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Indeed, the information presented in this ten paragraph article should qualify us to make the decision instead of the Secretary of Defense. You all need to shut up and respect the process. You do understand that the Navy Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor, so it's not something they give away to everyone, right?
on December 12,2012 | 04:55PM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
Obama better overrule his DOD Secretary. The initial denial was based on extraordinary means to justify denying the award to Sgt. Peralta. Panetta, unfortunately, failed to understand what the word "honor" means. Or, maybe, he should have asked the living awardees what they thought of Peralta's actions and if they believe him to be worthy under the circumstances. So much for the hispanic vote, Barry.
on December 12,2012 | 04:51PM
kahu808 wrote:
The President isn't on the review panel. There is a process which needs to be adhered to in order to maintain the integrity of the award. It's not the presidents, nor the Sec Defs, to give.
on December 12,2012 | 07:56PM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
Either an act of Congress or even a Presidential declaration can over ride the "system".
on December 12,2012 | 08:14PM
HK888 wrote:
What more could he have done to save the lives of his felllow soldiers? He performed the ultimate sacrifice........ Where did he fall short in the "process that is used to award a MOH?"
on December 12,2012 | 05:46PM
Anonymous wrote:
So what qualifies the general public to question the criteria or process for awarding the MOH? It's fine to have an opinion and to express it, but to somehow blame Obama and Panetta? I would venture a guess that most of the commenters have never served a day in the military.
on December 13,2012 | 10:16AM
MakaniKai wrote:
Au contraire mon ami I know one of the above posters and not only did he serve “a day in the military” as you put it. He served combat tours in Vietnam and retired from the Marine Corps as a Sgt Major……Therefore he earned the right to comment and give his opinion on this subject. Aloha and Semper Fi
on December 14,2012 | 07:15AM
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