Warship honoring Marine christened at Maine shipyard

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A new class of ships honors American heroes of Afghanistan & Iraq.

The USS Peralta is believed to be the first warship named for someone who was born in Mexico. BATH, Maine — Members of Maine’s congressional delegation will join other local dignitaries and the family of Rafael Peralta for the christening Saturday of Bath Iron Works’ 35th Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer named in Peralta’s honor. Saturday, Rosa Peralta will smash a bottle of champagne across the bow of USS Rafael Peralta, a guided-missile destroyer nearly two football fields long. The ship’s name honors her son, killed in Iraq in 2004 when he smothered a grenade with his body to protect his fellow Marines. “The USS Peralta holds the spirit of what my brother stood for, and that was for God, for his country, the United States, and for the Marine Corps,” says Ricardo Peralta, who was inspired by Rafael’s heroism to join the Marines himself.

Marine serving in Iraq when he was killed in action during the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004 as he shielded several other marines from a grenade. “What I think about the most is these terms that my brother used on his final letter that wrote me, where he says, ‘Be proud of me, bro, I’m going to make history,'” he says. “I still feel like the ship holds that piece of history that he’s referring to. Murphy, a Long Island boy, won the Medal of Honor — the first for the Navy since Vietnam — after exposing himself to fatal gunfire while radioing for help for his team in Afghanistan in 2005. (The book and film “Lone Survivor” tell the tale.) Naming ships after these men is a fit honor for their bravery and sacrifice, a sign to any who follow in their footsteps of how much America appreciates such service. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, said as he quoted from Peralta’s former commanding officer from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, the Hawaii-based “Lava Dogs.” Peralta came to the US with his family, attended high school in San Diego, then enlisted on the day he received his green card. The defense secretary at the time ultimately rejected that honor because of questions over whether the mortally wounded Marine was conscious at the time. Peralta’s family, which has no doubt about his valor, said the naming of the 510-foot guided-missile destroyer in the fallen Marine’s honor has eased some of the bitterness.

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