- Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin’s parents rally against Fla. ‘stand your ground’ law
- Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Ottawa day care suspends 2-year-old for ‘outside’ cheese sandwich
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to ‘man up’ in horse carriage fight
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
Medal of Honor case goes to 3rd defense secretary; Rep. Hunter says system broken
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is taking another look at the case of a Marine sergeant who fell on a grenade, smothering the blast and saving the lives of his squadmates in Iraq, but who has been denied the Medal of Honor by the two previous defense secretaries.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who served combat tours as a Marine officer in Afghanistan and Iraq, has made Sgt. Rafael Peralta’s case a mission, and the congressman said Wednesday that the credibility of the Medal of Honor system is riding on whether the Defense Department gets his case right.
The Marine Corps recommended Peralta for the medal after the 2004 incident, in which his fellow Marines say he saved their lives by scooping the grenade beneath himself. But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates convened a special review that discounted the eyewitness testimony and concluded that Peralta, who had just been shot in the head, could not have been acting consciously.
With Mr. Hagel having taken the job this year, Mr. Hunter has asked for another review. He said he hopes Mr. Hagel, as an enlisted soldier who earned two Purple Hearts leading an infantry squad in Vietnam, will look at the case with a fresh set of eyes.
“If you do the right thing on Peralta, it will show the military that, hey, we can do the Medal of Honor process properly,” the congressman told The Washington Times.
The Medal of Honor system has been criticized in recent years by those who say it no longer recognizes troops who deserve the award.
As one of those chief critics, Mr. Hunter offered two cases: that of Peralta and former Army Capt. William Swenson, who was nominated for the medal in 2009 after braving enemy fire to rescue wounded and dead troops in Afghanistan. Capt. Swenson’s paperwork apparently was lost, and it wasn’t until backers pushed the case that he was approved for the honor.
Mr. Hunter said the Peralta case also is being mishandled and underscores a broken process for the military’s top honor, reserved for the highest valor and bravery in combat.
“When Gates turned this down, it was the first time ever that a board had been instituted to prove doubt on a case like this — ever — in American history,” Mr. Hunter said. “I don’t think Panetta wanted to overturn Gates‘ ruling and I think that does play a large part in this.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- CPAC 2014: Poll shows GOP discontent, Congress frustration
- U.S. has lost track of tens of thousands of foreign students who came study to then took jobs
- Border Patrol Chief: Agents can still shoot at rock throwers
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Border Patrol policy still permits agents to shoot at rock-throwers
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again