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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 30, 2005 / 21 Iyar, 5765

Death of a Marine

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Tonight, in a special Memorial Day broadcast of ''Nightline," Ted Koppel will call the roll of the more than 900 US troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 12 months. As each name is read, viewers will see a photograph of the fallen soldier. Executive producer Tom Bettag says the program is meant to remind Americans, ''regardless of their feelings about the war, that the men and women who have given their lives in our behalf are individuals with names and faces." When ABC aired a similar "Nightline" in April 2004, it was accused in some quarters of trying to inflame antiwar sentiment for political purposes. In the event, it proved a solemn and respectful tribute, and there has been no controversy this year.

Long lists of soldiers killed in wartime can have great emotional power, as anyone who has been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington can attest. However dignified and moving, though, in the end such a listing can really describe them only as a group: They wore the uniform and died in the service of their country. But who they were individually, how they served, what they left behind — that is more than a catalogue of names can convey.

So here is the story behind just one of the names ''Nightline" will enumerate on Memorial Day: Sergeant Rafael Peralta of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines. He was killed in action on Nov. 15 during Operation Dawn, the epic battle to retake the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah.

What follows is chiefly based on an account by Marine Lance Corporal T.J. Kaemmerer, a combat correspondent who took part in the operation that cost Peralta his life. Reports also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Marine Corps Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, and on ABC News.

On the day he died, Rafael Peralta was 25 years old, a Mexican immigrant from San Diego who had enlisted in the Marines as soon as he became a legal resident. He earned his citizenship while on active duty and re-upped in 2004. He was a Marine to the core, so meticulous that when Alpha Company was training in Kuwait, he would send his camouflage uniform out to be pressed.

He was no less passionate about his adopted country: His bedroom wall was adorned with a picture of his boot camp graduation and replicas of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. ''Be proud of being an American," he wrote to his kid brother Ricardo, 14. ''Our father came to this country and became a citizen because it was the right place for our family to be." It was the first letter he ever wrote to Ricardo — and the last. It arrived in San Diego the day after he died.

The Marines of the 1/3 were on the front lines in Fallujah, purging the city of terrorists in house-to-house combat. As a platoon scout, Peralta could have stayed back in relative safety. Instead, as was often the case, he volunteered to join the assault team.

On the morning of Nov. 15, one week into the battle for Fallujah, his squad had cleared three houses without incident. They approached a fourth, kicking in two locked doors simultaneously and entering both front rooms. They found them empty. Another closed door led to an adjoining room. As the other Marines spread out, wrote Kaemmerer, ''Peralta, rifle in hand, tested the handle." It wasn't locked. He threw open the door, preparing to rush in — and three terrorists with AK-47s opened fire. He was shot multiple times in the chest and face. As he fell, severely wounded, he managed to wrench himself out of the doorway to give his fellow Marines a clear line of fire.

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The gunfire was deafening. To the sound of the terrorists' AK-47s was added the din of the Marines' M16 rifles and Squad Automatic Weapon, a machine gun. The battle was raging, with Peralta down and bleeding heavily and the other Marines firing at the enemy in the back room, when, in Kaemmerer's words, ''a yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped grenade bounced into the room, rolling to a stop close to Peralta's nearly lifeless body."

As the other Marines tried to flee, Peralta reached for the grenade and tucked it into his gut. Seconds later, it exploded with such force that when his remains were returned to his family for burial, they were able to identify him only by the tattoo on his shoulder. His five comrades-in-arms, shielded from the worst of the blast by Peralta's last act as a Marine, survived.


''Right now, people are really nice and everything," Peralta's 12-year-old sister Karen told a reporter 10 days after her brother's death. ''But I know that when it comes to later on, they are going to forget him. They're going to forget about him."

No, Karen. The Marines, always faithful, do not forget their heroes. And neither does the grateful nation that pauses to honor them this week — the nation Rafael Peralta loved so deeply, and for which he gave his last full measure of devotion.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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