SGT Rafael Peralta, USMC 4/7/1979 - 11/15/2004 "Our Loving Hero"
Photo taken by Smash (click on image for larger version).
The words to "Taps" are:
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
God Is Nigh
When Taps is played at dusk, it has a completely different meaning than when Taps is played during the day. No soldier really wants to hear it played during daylight. For when the bugle plays Taps in the daylight...that means a soldier has fallen...There is a belief among some that Taps is the clarion call to open the gates of heaven for the fallen warrior and letting them know to "Safely Rest"...
Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta earned his rest the hard way. His name should be discussed more often than the celebrities of the day...
Sergeant Peralta was from Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment - his job was that of leading the scout section. In November of 2004, Peralta was 25 years old and not an American citizen. He joined the Marines on the very day that he received his green card. He later earned his citizenship as a Marine.
On November 15, 2004, the Marines were busy clearing houses in the Battle for Fallujah. Peralta, as scout team leader, was responsible for locating the enemy and directly ground forces to destroy them. He was not supposed join in the assaults inside the homes.
However, Rafael Peralta was not the kind of guy to stand around watching things happen. He wanted to make things happen. He routinely requested to join the assault teams entering the insurgent filled houses.
During the fateful assault on the 15th, after clearing three houses, Peralta lead the charge into the fourth house, finding two rooms empty on the ground floor. Upon opening a third door, Peralta was hit multiple times with AK-47 fire - severely wounded, he dropped to the floor and moved away in order to give the Marines behind him an opportunity to fire on the insurgents.
As the battle continued, the insurgents lobbed a grenade at the Marines. Two Marines were trapped in the room with Peralta. When they saw the grenade, they tried to get out of the blast area but were trapped.
Peralta, bleeding out on the floor, reached for the grenade and pulled it to his midsection, cradling the grenade before it cooked off.
The grenaded exploded, killing Peralta and critically wounding another Marine, the others all survived because Peralta absorbed the majority of the lethal blast.
But my kids will know Rafael Peralta - I'll make sure of it.
Ben Stein has a great column today:
They Did God's Work By Ben Stein Published 5/26/2006 11:59:59 PM
Remarks delivered on Saturday evening in Arlington, Virginia, at the Memorial Day weekend seminar and grief camp of TAPS -- the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
Wall Street does not have it. Hollywood does not have it. They're just in it for the fame and the money.
Your loved ones were in it for unselfishness, for kindness, for love of one's fellow man. There is no higher meaning on this earth.
The media try to rob your husbands' and wives' and kids' lives of meaning saying this war is not about anything.
They're wrong and they say what they say because they don't see the truth. They print a story on the front page about Marines killing civilians in a town in Iraq and if they did, it was wrong. But the big media never report a MARINE throwing himself on a bomb to protect an Iraqi child, or a Marine giving his life to rid a town of murderers or a Marine or an Army man or woman or a Navy Seal or a Coast Guardsman offering up his life so that Iraqi human beings can have the same freedoms and rights we take for granted here in America.
The media are like grave robbers, robbing you of the certain knowledge that your spouses gave their lives for something deeply worthwhile: human dignity.
Your loved ones' lives and deaths had as much meaning at the lives and deaths of every American who died for freedom from Valley Forge to the Battle of the Bulge to Cho-Sin Reservoir to the Cu Chi tunnels to the Balkans to Kabul, Afghanistan, to Falluja, Iraq.
And if the media doesn't know it, every other American does. This is a very difficult fight, but the ordinary American knows what your loved ones have done and respects them...
Damn right, Ben.
Godspeed Rafael Peralta and safely rest.
May God Bless the families that lost loved ones on this Memorial Day. They need our prayers and thoughts right now.
[thanks to Smash for the photo and the opportunity to tell Sergeant Peralta's story again]