Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. / Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON - A congressman has forwarded new witness statements that he says bolster the case of Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, whose nomination to receive the nation's highest award for valor was denied by previous Defense secretaries.

Peralta was nominated for a Medal of Honor by the Marine Corps for acts of heroism in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004. Peralta was killed during the fighting.

The nomination, which was supported by an extensive investigation and included eyewitness testimony, was approved at the highest level of the Marine Corps.

In a rare move, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in 2008 that he did not approve the nomination.

A review Gates ordered had concluded that medical evidence suggested Peralta was killed by a bullet to the head during a firefight, raising doubts about whether he could voluntarily have reached for a grenade and pulled it toward his body.

The report concluded that the grenade blast probably occurred 6 to 10 feet from where the mortally wounded Peralta had fallen. Peralta was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for valor.

Leon Panetta, who replaced Gates, declined to overturn the decision.

The new statements provided by Rep. Duncan Hunter. R-Calif., suggest the grenade exploded underneath Peralta.

The statements are from a Marine and Navy corpsman who describe Peralta's wounds and the damage to his body armor and weapon. Those statements have been sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

"With the information and evidence in the secretary's hands, and adding to that his own experience in the Army, there is good reason to be optimistic that he will do the right thing," Hunter said in a statement.

Hagel served as an enlisted infantryman in the Vietnam War.

Follow @jimmichaels on Twitter.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Lawmaker: New statements bolster case for heroism medal

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

FRI
18
SAT
19
SUN
20
MON
21
TUE
22
WED
23
THU
24

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX