City Council Honors A San Diego Marine Hero, A Scientist
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The City Council proclaimed it to be "Sgt. Peralta Day" Tuesday, July 25, in San Diego in honor of Rafael Peralta, who was killed in action in 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq.
The recognition of the 1997 Morse High School graduate came five days before a ship bearing his name is commissioned by the Navy.
Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in a firefight, in which he was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head before being killed by a grenade. A bid by Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Alpine, for Peralta to receive the Medal of Honor was rejected by defense officials amid questions of whether he consciously pulled the grenade under his body to save fellow Marines.
Councilman David Alvarez said Peralta, born in 1979 in Mexico City, joined the Marines as soon as he was eligible and became a U.S. citizen.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta will carry the words "courageous to the end" as it sails around the world, the councilman said.
"The ship and these words will ensure that the world always remember and be inspired by the sacrifice of Sergeant Peralta — a young man who couldn't wait to join the Corps, to serve his country, a man who loved his family deeply, a man who put the welfare and lives of his fellow Marines above his own, a young man who was truly courageous to the end," Alvarez said.
Peralta's mother, Rosa Maria, and sister, Icela, thanked the council members for the honor.
German Lira, command master chief of the destroyer, spoke on behalf of the crew.
"Thank you for honoring such a great American hero in this way, in his hometown," Lira told the council members. "We'll do everything possible to carry on that courageous spirit that Rafael Peralta has within him, for many years to come."
The commissioning ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado. On Thursday, the Navy will hold a naturalization ceremony in Peralta's honor for 10 service members who represent nine countries.
The City Council also voted unanimously to use San Diego's new honorary street naming program to recognize renowned oceanographer Walter Munk, who helped found UC San Diego and made forecasts that assisted allied troops during World War II.
Munk's name will go on signs in the 8100 block of La Vereda Street in La Jolla Shores, along the boardwalk near where he performed experiments after becoming a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the 1940s.
Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who said Munk is often referred to as "The Einstein of the Oceans," plans to unveil new street signs in October to commemorate his 100th birthday. He's lived in La Jolla for 78 years, she said.
"Walter is a physical oceanographer and geophysicist whose career spanning eight decades includes contributions to our understanding of ocean currents, tides and deep-ocean mixing, wind waves, tsunamis and seismic waves, and rotation of the earth," Bry said.
"His work on wave predictions in World War II in collaboration with others led to the first successful allied offensive of the war in northern Africa," she said. "His predictions were also used in the Pacific Theater of war and ultimately for the landings in Normandy on D-Day."
Bry said Munk, at age 99, studies climate change, with an emphasis on sea-level rise and its impact on poverty.
The City Council recently used the honorary street naming program to honor "Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill, whose signs are scheduled to be unveiled on Sunday.
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