First in English, then in Spanish, the mother of a fallen Marine who shielded his comrades from an insurgent’s grenade christened a new Navy destroyer in his honor.
Hundreds gathered to watch the christening Saturday of the U.S.S. Rafael Peralta DDG 115, constructed at Bath Iron Works.
Rosa Peralta asked God to bless the ship named for her son, Sgt. Rafael Peralta, and to keep the crew safe before smashing a bottle of Champagne on the ship’s bow.
Peralta, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico City as a child, enlisted in the Marines on the same day he earned his green card, according to U.S. Navy officials. He is believed to be the first serviceman born in Mexico to have a naval warship named in his honor.
Peralta was denied the Medal of Honor but awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor, after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates ruled the Marine lost consciousness after he was mortally wounded and his body smothered a grenade in Iraq in 2004, saving other lives. The prevailing belief among the military is that Peralta pulled the grenade against his body to protect his fellow Marines during close combat with insurgents Nov. 15, 2004, in Fallujah.