23 September 2008

The Butter-Cutter On The MoH & Sgt. Rafael Peralta, USMC

“Well, it appears that Sgt. Peralta will receive a Navy Cross rather than a Medal of Honor [MoH],” I told The Butter-Cutter on my weekly visit to the virtual Mess Hall. (1)

“Huh? Waddaya talkin' about?” he said on looking up from the large bowl of ice water he was replenishing with sheets of neatly defined squares of butter. “Oh, ya mean the guy who died after scoopin' a grenade under himself in Fallujah in 2004?” 

“Yes,” I answered, “almost four years of effort by the Corps to get him a Medal of Honor was futile. The . . .” 

The Butter-Cutter cut me off in demanding, “I know THAT! What I don't know is, why was it refused?”

“A panel convened by the Secretary of Defense rejected the Corps' nomination for an MoH because, in the words of a Pentagon spokesman, they didn't think 'a mortally wounded Marine could have intentionally reached for the grenade after suffering a serious head wound.' ” (2)

“WHAT? The Secretary o' Defense Spear-Chuckers is sayin' that his panel o' rear-echelon pogues knows more than everybody in HIS chain o' command. A chain that went from them the Marines who were with Peralta in Fallujah up through the Commandant 'n' Secretary of the Navy?” he asked. 

“Yes. Unfortunately, the Secretary's panel feels the forensic evidence, accompanying the nomination, indicates that Peralta could not have pulled the grenade under himself after sustaining a head wound from a ricochet,” I answered.

“Wait a freakin' minute. Did everybody in that chain see that foreign-sick shit the panel's talkin' about?” 

“If you mean the forensic evidence, I would guess so.”

“DAMN IT, I meant 'FOREIGN-SICK SHIT' cuz it's FOREIGN-SICK SHIT! If it was American HEALTHY-SHIT it woulda stopped that nomination early in its trip up that chain o' command: That didn't happen! FOREIGN-SICK SHIT don't KNOW how much time there was between Peralta gettin' hit by a ricochet, 'n' goin' down 'n' scoopin' up that grenade! ONLY the guys there could know that 'n' they said he scooped up that grenade! RIGHT?” 

“Yes, that is what they reportedly said and your description of time . . . seems to be reasonable,” I agreed.

“But, Peralta's gettin' a Navy Cross: what's THAT citation sayin' about what he did?”

I hesitated to answer, then said, ”ACCORDING to the article I read, 'The citation said [he] covered a live grenade thrown by insurgents.' " (2)

“SHIT! PISS! F***! DAMN! What kinda double-talk is that? One minute the powers ta be say Peralta couldn't pull the grenade ta his body 'n' the next minute they say he 'covered a live grenade.' Waddas that mean? It was a live grenade, so it got under him all by itself?” The Butter-Cutter asked with disbelief. “My achin' ass! The Navy Cross citation says he 'covered a live grenade'; THEN Peralta put it there!” The Butter-Cutter said glaring back at me. 

“Since the Secretary of the Navy is the final approving authority for the award of a Navy Cross, it would appear that it was his decision to use those words in the citation,” I answered. “In any case, during the Vietnam War it was rumored that if you fell on a grenade and it killed you, you got a MoH. In the case of a dud, you received a Navy Cross,” I volunteered.

“FORMER intelligence officer, that's bum scoop. Me 'n' my buddies did a Google search 'n' found a guy who got an MoH fer fallin' on a dud! I said a DUD! Back on 16 May 1968, this Corpsman named Donald Ballard fell on a grenade in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. His citation says, 'When the grenade failed to detonate, he calmly arose from his dangerous position and resolutely continued his determined efforts in treating other Marine casualties.' Fer that, he got a Medal of Honor!” The Butter-Cutter added. (3)

It appears that the DoD was inconsistent in judging the Corpsman’s experience and that of Peralta?” I suggested.

“The Corpsman got an MoH fer ATTEMPTIN' ta protect his buddies by smotherin' a grenade that didn't go off; 'n', Peralta's gettin' a Navy Cross--a LESSER AWARD--fer ACTUALLY protectin' his buddies by smotherin' a grenade that did go off. 'Inconsistent?' Big time! The Corpsman's nomination didn't have any o' that foreign-sick shit in it. It was ALL about believin' them Marines who told what they saw him do. It oughta be the same fer Peralta. What them five Marine witnesses saw Peralta do oughta trump that foreign-sick shit fer the Secretary o' Defense Spear Chuckers like it did fer all them other decision-makers in HIS chain of command. But NO! He believes the PANEL! As far as the guy in charge o' the DoD 'n' EVERYONE of its Marines is concerned, it is Inconsistent Fidelis! 

Semper Fidelis,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)

(1) http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2008/09/marine_peralta_navycross_091708/

(2) http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2008-09-17-Medal-of-Honor_N.htm


(3) http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/vietnam-a-l.html

Waddaya think?

(20 Thinks)

Cpl Seamus Garrahy said:   September 23rd, 2008 5:36 am

Major, I will post this on my All Hands list. Do you want me to clear with you every time I do this? Seamus

Jack Whitesell said:   September 23rd, 2008 8:57 am

You're back in the groove----- Even back in WW-2 we had some dip-shits above us----- Think it is a duty to rattle the cage on occasion---

Veronica Burkhart said:   September 23rd, 2008 10:31 am

There were 2 different opinions from the neurologists. 1 claiming that the low velocity of the bullet did NOT make him mortally wounded, therefore he was capable of grabbing the grenade. The other, by the so called "star team," claimed that he could not. Why are there conflicting examinations? Good Piece.

Jim Davlin said:   September 23rd, 2008 2:53 pm

Outstanding! Carry on! You put a smile on a old salts face!

NJG said:   September 23rd, 2008 5:08 pm

Maj. Milavic. There is a curious irony in your piece. Years ago when I was at Hq., USMC, we were always asked, "What does 'the field' think about this?" whenever something was proposed. I suppose the rejection of the 'field's' opinion in your piece is just another one on those changes we hear so much about. 

Top R said:   September 23rd, 2008 9:30 pm

The Marines on the scene are the only ones that count in what actually happened. Those in the rear with the gear should have no say and certainly should not spend dollars foolishly as has been done in this case. There is no doubt that the MoH should have been awarded and in a timely fashion.

USMCGrunt said:   September 24th, 2008 8:29 am

This is like the butter cutter said before. Acemyrectal Warfare: The Pentagon got all the weapons and it gives the troops at the pointy end of the spear the shaft up their rectal.

USMC03RET said: September 24th, 2008 2:57 pm

Wadda I think? To the members of the panal and all associated with its decision: FUCK'EM! FUCK'EM! FUCK'EM! FUCK'EM! FUCK'EM! ad infinitum! Well, anyhow, I feel better now.

GI Wilson said:  September 24th, 2008 3:20 pm

Anthony, very Interesting how a committee of un-named OSD pseudo-warriors who were NOT there when Perlate made the supreme sacrifice, determined they know better than combat troops. There is a rotting stench in the Pentagon! For some reason I smell a David-Chu-malodorant. Screw-The-Troops is David Chu's Pentagon legacy and now that legacy and malodorous stench finds it way into the office of SecDef. Gates has reduced the Navy Cross to "maybe-he-couldn't-have-done-it-medal". The Pentagon has literally turned the Navy Cross into the enlisted consolation prize. Clearly, consistent with David Chu's Screw-The-Troops-Personnel-Doctrine. In fact, if we accept the Pentagon's and Gates' reasoning regarding Peralta's MoH criteria, one must wonder why did Peralta get any kind of medal at all? Sad DoD goes out of its way NOT to award the MoH. Sad too are DoD political antics.

Capt. Robert DiPalma, USN (Ret.) said:   September 24th, 2008 4:22 pm

In my 29 years in the Navy, with about 6 of those years afloat, there were always rumors (although some called it good skinny from a reliable source). The reliable source varied from the (best) CO's yeoman to (worst case) the "starboard butter cutter" on the mess deck. Come to think of it, there was never a mention of the "port butter cutter". Like the USMC he was the person shuffling the butter patties and dealing them out to the hungry troops that passed him by - along with any words of wisdom, on any topic. On the carriers, where the number of hungry sailors required two sides to the chow line, you could be the unfortunate one if you were on the wrong side when "rumors" were being passed out - along with the butter patties. I wonder if the other services have "butter cutters" as well? Regards,

SNIPERBAIT66 said:   September 25th, 2008 7:03 am

I'm with USMC03RET. And, the shits in the rear with the gear should have NO say so when MEN give their lives for their buddies. SECNAV is a typical Academy rich boy with NO honor. I want to know about this rumored 1 October Martial Law crap, and the unConstitutional use of American Military to quell feared uprisings by angry Americans. You KNOW BLACKWATER Merc's will be under nearby rocks.

Stewart Hickey said:   September 25th, 2008 9:55 am

This is nothing unusal, I had a LtCol ride 150M behind me thru DES Storm, not fire a shot and get a Silver Star. These same pogues are the ones who sit on the promotion boards. Chesty Puller or Pappy Boyington would be passed over and put out in today's atmosphere. Despite these rear with the gear types the Marines carry on as always. The officers in the field have balls,why can't those at HQMC have some, or do they have to be neutered before they can serve in the palace guard?

Colonel Joel Leson, US Army, Retired said:   September 25th, 2008 10:06 am

So this is what we're dealing with in the Pentagon. They don't trust the word of our Marines on the ground, up through The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps and to The Secretary of the United States Navy. There is something rotten in that five-sided squirrel cage when courageous young Americans volunteer to serve our Country, and a bunch of rear area butt wipes make such an ignorant decision. The lesson remains: take care of your squadmates, your shipmates, or your wingmen. There are a bunch of us who know what you are doing, and what it takes to do it, We will ALWAYS care, honor and work for you. JLL 

RedJarhead said:   September 25th, 2008 10:10 am

I like this butter-cutter. Thinks like the rest of us Marines and the SecNav should get his sorry ass out in the field and throw a grenade under HIS body to see if it goes off.

Maj. Bill Fry, USMC (Ret.) said:   September 25th, 2008 2:58 pm


a.W. said:   September 25th, 2008 3:03 pm

Not having been in the military I thought I just couldn't comment on this; while is seemed totally idiotic, I thought, well, what do I know? This Marine surely deserves the highest honors, and you would think people in the Bush administration (not dirty Liberal commie-pinko- fascists) would understand that. But they don't. The idea that the decision makers involved should be using the evidence from an autopsy to award a medal, instead of the evidence from the dead Marine's comrades who saw him die, is totally psychotic. Could it be that had he been a senior officer the decision would have been different? It is disgraceful. Even, and perhaps more so, for an old fashioned liberal like me. 

Sharon said:   September 25th, 2008 9:37 pm

Talking about an MoH, I think anyone that is serving in the war and is killed should be given a MoH. After all is said and done with the rest of the idiots on that pannel deciding what should and what shouldn't, it doesn't anything to me, because my son or daughter is dead and no special metal will bring him/her back. But what the heck do I know I am only a USMC MOM

Sharon said:   September 25th, 2008 9:45 pm

Oh by the way did I say, I am proud of all who serve in any of the arm forces. My dad served in WWII and my sons in the Marines. My ex in Viet Nam. proud of them all. What the heck does any of the head honchos know about honesty of the five other Marines that saw what happened in front of them. Are they calling them liars?? I think they need a little head examination done by the neurologists, then maybe they will come up with 3 or 4 more different opinions. GOD BLESS THE USMC

DC Wright, SSgt USMC Retired said:   September 25th, 2008 10:56 pm

I see Col Wilson's been by to comment. His words reflect my thoughts, as well. The Pentagon needs some airing out and that right quickly. Sgt Peralta surely deserves the MOH for his action, the last action of his too short life.

Liam Murphy, former Marine rifleman said: September 28th, 2008 6:33 pmThe line that seperates the Silver Star, the Navy Cross and the Medal of Honor is sometimes fuzzy at best, and I, for one, would be reluctant to second-guess CMC and SECNAV. But, more important than the medal awarded is the esteem in which the individual is held by his comrades-in-arms. While many of the friends of John Ripley have argued that he should have received the MoH for his actions at the Bridge of Dong Ha, none of us think any less of him because he got the Navy Cross, nor could we think any more of him had he received the MoH. Just ask yourself the question, would Audie Murphy, or Smedley Butler, or Dan Daly hang a Medal of Honor on a given individual, and you can solve the problem in your own mind, regardless of the opinions of higher-ups. In the meantime SECDEF has his responsibilities. Should anyone wonder why there were so many MoHs awarded during the American Civil War, it is a reflection of the magnitude of the biggest, toughest war this country has ever experienced.