Senator Collins Participates in Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) Arleigh Burke Destroyer Christening Ceremony at Bath Iron Works

    WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Susan Collins delivered remarks this morning at the USSRafael Peralta (DDG-115) christening ceremony at Bath Iron Works. 

      “I am honored, and truly grateful, to take part in recognizing an American hero, Sergeant Rafael Peralta, a United States Marine.  As we christen DDG-115, the 35th Arleigh Burke Class Missile Destroyer to be built by Bath Iron Works, we are reminded of the ideals that Sergeant Peralta exemplified.  He answered the call to duty.  He gave his life for freedom’s cause.  And his legacy will live on as DDG-115 conducts its missions in support of our national security requirements across the world,” stated Senator Collins. 

      The USS Rafael Peralta is the namesake of Marine Corps Sergeant Rafael Peralta who was killed in action on November 15, 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq. Sergeant Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism and courage under fire.  He gave his life by grabbing a live grenade and absorbing the blast with his body – sacrificing his life for the lives of his fellow Marines.  He exemplifies all our nation holds dear:  honor, sacrifice, and selflessness.  He answered our nation’s call to duty.  He gave his life for freedom’s cause.  There can be no doubt that his spirit lives on and will continue to do so as she preserves free passage on the seas, deters our enemies, and perhaps sails into battle.

      “The Peralta family forged Sgt Peralta’s character, courage, and dedication.  My hope is that this family, who suffered such a terrible loss, will find comfort in the prayers of a grateful nation,”Senator Collins continued.  
 
See below for a copy of Senator Collins’ remarks as prepared for delivery: 

      Thank you, Matt.  Senator King, Congresswoman Pingree, Congressman Poliquin, General Neller, Assistant Secretary Stackley, President Harris, officers and crew of the Rafael Peralta, Marines, men and women of Bath Iron Works, distinguished guests, and friends, it a pleasure to share this day of celebration with you.

      Mrs. Peralta, it is an honor to join you and your family on this day of solemn remembrance and recognition of your son.

      During my service in the United States Senate, I have had the privilege of participating in many christenings here at Bath Iron Works, each one very special.  It is appropriate to pause and reflect on the Navy’s time-honored tradition of naming its ships.

      Navy ships sail the globe and, where necessary, sail into battle.  They demonstrate the strength of American power and resolve.  It is fitting, therefore, that our ships bear the names of individuals who have displayed uncommon valor, notable commitment, unwavering sacrifice, and extraordinary service in support of these missions.

      I am honored, and truly grateful, to take part in recognizing just such an individual, Sergeant Rafael Peralta, a United States Marine. As we christen DDG-115, we are reminded of these ideals that Sergeant Peralta exemplified. He answered the call to duty.  He gave his life for freedom’s cause.  And his legacy will live on as DDG-115 conducts its missions in support of our national security.

      We celebrate one of the most capable and proven warships in the world, built in a state-of-the-art facility by the industry’s most skilled hands, manned by officers and crew with the highest level of training and expertise, all working as a team to meet the security challenges of the 21st Century.  At the same time, we pay tribute to the timeless virtues of devotion to duty, courage, and sacrifice.

      Sergeant Peralta’s heroism and courage under fire are well-known to all here today.  On November 15, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah, after suffering grievous injuries, he selflessly grabbed a live grenade and absorbed the blast with his body to save the lives of his fellow Marines.  It is an inspiring story of astonishing valor.

      But remarkable as that courageous action was, it is only part of the story of a lifedevoted to accomplishment and service.  Sergeant Peralta’s family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was a boy.  As a young man, he took on the responsibilities as head of the household after the passing of his father.  He joined the Marines after high school and became an American citizen.  In his bedroom in the family home, he hung three things: a copy of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and his Marine boot camp graduation certificate.

      These documents reflect not only his character, but also his devotion to our nation. So does another document, a letter Sergeant Peralta wrote to his younger brother, Ricardo, as Rafael was being deployed to Iraq.  That letter contained these words: “Be proud of me, bro ...and be proud of being an American.”

      To Rosa Maria, Deborah, Icela (iss-SELLA), Ricardo, and all of the other members of this wonderful family, this is the gift you helped create, the character you helped forge.  You have suffered a terrible loss.  It is my deepest hope that your hearts are strengthened by the prayers of a grateful nation.
To the Marines here today, thank you so much for coming together to honor this life.  When that life ended, you reached out to Sergeant Peralta’s grieving family with uncommon kindness and generosity.  Like him, like all Marines, you are always faithful.

      To the men and women of Bath Iron Works, you make “Bath built is best built” not just a slogan, but a way of life.  Your skill, commitment to excellence, and perhaps most important, your hearts, go into every ship built here.  I am certain that the namesake of DDG 115 inspired you as you built this magnificent ship.

      To the officers and crew of the Rafael Peralta, I know that the men and women of the United States Navy take great pride in the namesakes of their ships.  You serve on a ship that represents the highest values of our nation and our armed forces.  Your motto, “Fortis ad Finem” perfectly describes Sergeant Peralta.  Like him, I am certain you will be brave, even to the end.

      Wherever the Rafael Peralta sails, the spirit of this valiant Marine will go with her.  May she have fair winds and following seas, and may God always speed her safely home.