By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times
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.