The secretary of Defense has decided not to overrule his predecessor and posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta of San Diego, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) announced Wednesday.
The decision by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta means the Navy Cross awarded to Peralta for heroism during the 2004 battle in Fallouja, Iraq, will not be upgraded to the nation's highest award for combat courage.
Hunter had petitioned Panetta to overturn the decision made by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2008. Gates ruled that conflicting evidence made it inappropriate to award the Medal of Honor.
Peralta, 25, an immigrant from Mexico, was killed during house-to-house fighting in November 2004.
Marines who were with Peralta during the battle swore that, although mortally wounded, he reached out to smother a grenade with his body, saving the lives of several Marines. But a pathologist's report concluded that Peralta was already brain dead from friendly fire and thus any actions were not taken intentionally.