SAN DIEGO - A Camp Pendleton Marine killed while serving in Iraq was honored at Mount Soledad on Monday.
Sgt. Rafael Peralta died in 2004 when he covered a grenade to protect his fellow Marines. His family fought back tears as they listened to his military family thank him for paying the ultimate sacrifice.
"I'm the father that I am today because of Sgt. Rafael Peralta saving my life," said Staff Sgt. Adam Morrison.
Three of Peralta's fellow Marines were just feet away from where the grenade went off. Peralta saved their lives.
"You hear about the stories of Marines doing that in boot camp and little did I know that somebody would do that for me," said Robert Reynolds.
Nick Jones added, "He looked out for everybody else's well-being and if there was a hard job ahead of us, he was the first to volunteer to step up and do it."
A plaque that read, "Ultimate sacrifice, we are forever indebted" will be added to the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial wall.
The war hero has also received the Navy Cross, but three efforts to get him the Medal of Honor have failed. Rep. Duncan Hunter told 10News lawmakers will not give up on trying to make that happen.
"We're going to wait a while, give it some space. When you've been turned down three times in a row, it's time to regroup and come at it in a different way," Hunter said.
Peralta's brother told 10News the family was disappointed when he was not awarded the military's top honor, but instead of focusing on that, they want to remember him for the legacy of service and dedication he leaves behind.
"It was disappointing but that doesn't take away anything from that," said Ricardo Peralta. "We know what he did."