Fallen Marine denied Medal of Honor for second time
California Congressman Duncan Hunter weighs in
- Duration 7:48
- Date Dec 13, 2012
California Congressman Duncan Hunter weighs in
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There is growing debate now over our nation's highest military honor.
After a fallen marine is posthumously denied the medal of honor for the second time.
After falling on a live grenade in Iraq and act that cost him his life.
But likely saved several fellow Marines.
Peralta was in Fallujah back in 2004 when an insurgent apparently -- -- live grenade in his direction.
A pro Peralta is said to have fallen on the grenade and while he likely saved several lives.
He would not make the trip home alive.
At the time then Defense Secretary Robert Gates determined that Peralta was already brain dead when he fell on that grenade.
And as such.
He decided to award.
Peralta posthumously with the navy cross that's one level down instead of the military's highest award the medal of honor.
And while Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently agreed with that assessment one lawmaker and former combat marine says he has proof.
At Peralta deserves the highest honor and says he will not stop fighting for him.
Republican congressman Duncan Hunter of California is a member of the house armed services committee and is a former combat marine who served this country.
In Iraq and Afghanistan -- welcome.
I thank you for -- And thank you for your incredible services I read up on your background for -- came on today really impressive and and wonderful wanna I wanna I wanna ask you about.
It's fallen marine because it's so extraordinary to have.
This disparity between the Marines.
And a Navy SEALs who are saying he deserves the medal of honor.
And the Department of Defense brass.
First Robert Gates and now Leon Panetta saying no he doesn't what is what is the essence of the dispute.
-- -- -- -- The biggest dispute is this they say that that the the witnesses who saw this and there were seven Marines in this room -- actually saw him -- this grenade under his body.
Those those Marines give.
Differing testimony in this way -- and for -- say that he political under his chest with his right arm to -- say uses left -- one couldn't say which army used that.
But but that is their reasoning for denying the -- water in this case and there's a a couple of other reasons too it's hard for secretariat of defense to overturn precedent.
Set by the prior secretary of defense -- I think it it gets a little bit political too which is sad.
The the grounds for the medal of honor is it's it's very simple to I would eyewitnesses that's all you need just to.
And in the words of those Marines -- in that room.
And the fact that those Marines whose lives were saved by Rafael Peralta that that -- -- able to testify to this because they're alive now because of what he did.
That's enough for me and and here's the biggest problem too.
It's -- to have bureaucrats in DC doctors.
Whether they're military doctors were not.
Try and trying to make a call and a judgment on a on a combat situation.
People do things that are heroic.
While gravely injured all the time in combat -- -- one of those strange things about combat.
Somebody get shot so many times are still able able to save their friends or -- commit some.
Other active bravery so so that's that's the big dispute we.
Let me seem to be saying that before we get -- that it because it's its offer I see you're saying and mr.
Panetta basically had did almost almost had to defer to mr.
gates is determination but mr.
He went through a lot that he appointed a five member panel led by general George Casey the army chief of staff.
To review reports of the battle because they take this very seriously the medal of honor and as they should.
And he also that panel included medal of honor recipient a retired military neurosurgeon.
And two civilian forensic pathologists.
And based on there unanimous conclusion.
Peralta is act action did not meet the standard of quote no margin of doubt or possibility of error.
In terms of deserving this this metal that's why Secretary Gates decided not to award.
That is -- direction you're actually right but none of those gentlemen were in the room.
Facing the combat that Ralston is again in his Marines -- you that's that's where you have a problem here in the would say about Secretary Gates under the Bush Administration.
Not a single medal of honor was given to -- living recipient.
Not a single one you had over 246.
Medals water given in Vietnam only ten have been given.
Under the Bush Administration.
To living recipients now but only ten since 2001 since nine elevenths.
That's that's kind of the broader picture here Secretary Gates did not see one single action in Iraq or Afghanistan.
That warranted that the medal of -- to a -- a living person.
That's troublesome because we'll tell you from firsthand experience there there -- those acts of bravery and courage.
Were were being committed every single day so -- The Bush Administration again not a single living person got the -- water and and only a few given out posthumously and that that.
Panel that the -- -- -- that was on precedent they've got that has never been done before from the the metal water.
What -- what has always been taken that the Marines or the soldiers on the ground the eyewitnesses that are there and that combat an environment.
Being shot at it in in that crazy loud smoke filled room.
Those are who you look to for their assessment of what happened when you have.
Seven and yeah let me -- I guess I realized I you know that's pretty concludes in I'm not -- -- as I've decided -- science knows what that the Pentagon saying.
But but they say that the autopsy report that was conducted.
On the sergeant said he was already brain dead from friendly fire by the time he was killed by that grenade and -- He he he couldn't have made a conscious decision to smother their grenade because he's -- he darted in mortally wounded in the head.
By that that by the rifle.
Round and so they -- you know without disrespecting the sergeant anyway they say to get that -- You know to really risk your life to save others now I know that there was conflicting there were conflicting points on that because the eyewitnesses were saying.
He what it even after you got hit he reached over he pulled it into his body he tried to protect this fellow Marines.
But if there's any doubt is that the standard if there's some doubt and they don't award.
But but but they created the burden of -- in in this case -- -- -- they actually created it.
The doubt there was no doubt by the Marine Corps but I'm not -- or or anybody else right of the autopsy report.
Can't tell you what a person does under extreme duress.
After being shot in a combat situation and that's that's that's my point that's why this this panel is unprecedented and try to look at an autopsy report.
After that the body is already in.
In the actual ground that's that's not what should look to in these cases you look to the people they were in the room it's almost be because.
Men to do a lot of crazy stuff even after being shot in a combat environment for their buddies in their comrades.
This this happens all the time this is that this is not a strange thing to have somebody who's -- you wounded.
Still the still fight past their last breath because that's what they're doing at that point in time and and that's that's what you you cannot.
Pentagon panel with the actual combat eyewitness accounts -- we have a pro.
And our Marines are Marines who -- to what -- inordinately don't -- them apparently and then there's a new report as you please UN still look for a lot apologist.
Which says that his head -- not a prevented him from taking further action so I know the family's very disappointed nine other Marine Corps recommended the medal of honor the navy agreed.
And now his family has not accepted the navy cross they think he deserves more Doug and I thank you so much for coming out with his story.
Thank you very much.