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Congressman: Medal of Honor system broken

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A Marine combat veteran who now serves on the House Armed Services Committee said Monday that in at least two recent cases, the system for evaluating Medal of Honor nominations has gone awry, and he blamed bureaucratic infighting for keeping one of the men from a fair appraisal.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, has long advocated for Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who died while covering a grenade, protecting his fellow Marines, to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

On Monday, in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Mr. Hunter said he's become aware of another case — that of Army Capt. Will Swenson — whose nomination was derailed by what the congressman said sounds like bureaucratic bungling.

Mr. Hunter said it appears Capt. Swenson's paperwork was "misplaced" — though some press reports have said his lack of recognition, even though others who braved an ambush with him in 2009 have been awarded the Medal of Honor or Navy Cross, could be punishment because he was critical of superiors.

He had requested support during the ambush and was critical of officers who failed to send it, according to Army Times, which said Capt. Swenson left the Army last year.

"The fact that his nomination was somehow lost, only to surface when his story started gaining traction within the news media, is equally troubling," Mr. Hunter said in his letter.

He said both cases "involve significant errors in process and judgement by Pentagon officials."

Mr. Panetta has said he's re-examining the case of Sgt. Peralta, who would be awarded the medal posthumously. Mr. Hunter said Capt. Swenson's nomination is also now awaiting Mr. Panetta's review.

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