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Navy Secretary Recommends Medal of Honor for Rafael Peralta

Monday, Dec 3, 2012  |  Updated 1:42 PM PDT
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Family Defends Fallen Marine's Honor

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Family Defends Fallen Marine's Honor

The family of a local Marine killed in combat protecting fellow troops in Iraq is defending his honor. NBC 7's Diana Guevara spoke with the family of Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta.
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Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is recommending the Defense Department upgrade a fallen San Diego Marine's Navy Cross to the Medal of Honor.

Mabus told reporters at an unrelated Navy Cross ceremony at Camp Pendleton on Monday that he has recommended that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta give Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta the military's highest honor.

Peralta died when he was caught in crossfire during an assault in Fallujah, Iraq eight years ago.

The Defense Department ruled that Peralta was not conscious when he smothered a grenade with his body in Iraq in 2004, saving the lives of other Marines.

The case was reopened earlier this year after U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter obtained a video of the battle action and a newly released report by a forensic pathologist that the lawmaker says prove
Peralta was conscious and his actions intentional.

Mabus says the case is in Panetta's hands.

In 2008, a panel shot down Peralta's case for the Medal of Honor granting him the Navy Cross instead.

New forensic evidence released earlier this year could change that.

Peralta’s his family is hoping the government will reverse its previous decision and grant him the military's highest award.

Peralta's family says they do not need a medal to prove his heroism. However, they believe this award is long overdue.

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