The US Navy has christened its newest destroyer after a Marine who died on November 15, 2004 in Iraq. The destroyer is being built at Bath Iron Works in Maine. The vessel is named after Rafael Peralta, who was also awarded the Navy Cross for heroism for jumping on a grenade to protect other Marines with him. The USS Rafael Peralta will be the third destroyer (of four) named after fallen military personnel who died in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
The other destroyers are the: USS Michael Murphy, after the US Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005; the USS Jason Dunham, after the US Marine killed in Iraq in 2004. These two are built and in service. The USS Michael Monsoor is being built in Maine and is named after the Navy SEAL killed in Iraq in 2006.
Rafael Peralta was born in Mexico City and came to the US with family to settle in California. He attended school in San Diego and joined the Marines on the very day he was granted permanent residence status via a green card. Peralta was also nominated for the Medal of Honor for his actions in Fallujah during a close-quarters fight with local insurgents. It was during this encounter that Sgt. Peralta was shot and wounded before he covered a live grenade giving his life for other Marines. His nomination for the Medal of Honor has, to date, been denied through what many believe is due to political bickering.
The USS Rafael Peralta is a 510 foot guided-missile destroyer and will have a crew of 300. The vessel is also the first Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to be built at Bath Iron Works and is being built under a new restart program. This type of destroyer uses extremely high-tech computers and radar systems to fight against missiles, aircraft, surface ships, and submarines all at the same time. It is known as the Aegis Combat System.
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