Marine Corps Veteran Rafael Peralta is today's Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Rafael Peralta, who gave his life protecting fellow Marines from an enemy’s grenade.

To celebrate the Marine Corps birthday, we honor Marine Corps Veteran Rafael Peralta, who gave his life during combat.

Peralta was born in Mexico City, Mexico, and eventually immigrated to the United States as an adolescent. After graduating high school in 1997, he attended San Diego City College to further his education. Peralta wanted to become a U.S. Marine, but could not enlist until he had received his green card. Until then, Peralta served in the California Conservation Corps.

He finally became a permanent resident of the United States in 2000, immediately joining the Marine Corps. He attended boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. During his service, Peralta earned his U.S. citizenship.

On Nov. 15, 2004, Peralta was a part of a combat tour supporting Operation Al Fajr in a city by Fallujah, Iraq. During combat, he was shot and mortally wounded. While his squad continued to fight, the enemy threw a grenade; it came to rest near Peralta’s head. Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away. Peralta succumbed to his wounds.

The Navy awarded Peralta a Navy Cross, Purple Heart and a Combat Action Ribbon for his courageous actions. His mother, Rosa Peralta, accepted the awards. Peralta’s actions inspired not only his fellow Marines but his family as well. Peralta’s brother, Ricardo, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2010 as an infantryman to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

On July 29, 2017, the Navy commissioned USS Peralta, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer to honor his memory. Peralta’s mother donated his Navy Cross, and it resides aboard the ship as a constant reminder of his service.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Writer: Danielle Versen

Editor: Essence McPherson

Fact checker: Brett Raffish

Graphic artist: Austin Waters

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Published on Nov. 10, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 203


  1. Eduardo Dominguez November 15, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    I believe USMarine Peralta should have received the Congressional Medal Of Honor. Not too many willing to give their lives for their fellow soldiers the way he did. I salute him for his brave action. Eduardo Dominguez VietNam Combat Corpsman 1st Marine Division

  2. Edward Magdaleno Soria November 14, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Great event on courage by this one Marine Sgt. Peralta – but he should
    have his award upgraded to the Medal Of Honor. Sgt. Peralta in his
    Mind was aware of his action in giving his life for his fellow Marines.

    Even while wounded Sgt Peralta was able to secure the grenade under
    His body- he did not fall on it- and in his mind he knew and acted to
    Secure the grenade.

  3. JD White November 13, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Rafael also attended the Police Academy at Southwestern College, Chula Vista, California. Southwestern College dedicated a garden in his honor “Sergeant Rafael Peralta Garden of Honor” and also dedicated a plaque in his honor which is set in stone in the garden directly in front of our Nations’ Colors.

  4. Robert Bostic November 12, 2019 at 11:23 am

    We honor the service of Marine Corps Veteran Rafael Peralta.

  5. Adrienne BUTLER November 10, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    My salute goes to the veteran of the day CPL. PERALTA..Its so hard to here a story of this soldier courage and what he done for his soldiers and his country..

  6. Don Harris November 10, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    US MARINE Peralta should have received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions, giving his life to save fellow Marines and to the honor of his country. JMHO

    Don Harris
    USMC Vietnam Combat Veteran

Comments are closed.

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