During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 Fallujah Iraq, Lance Corporal Javier Perales Jr. suffered fatal injuries, caused from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. He was my friend and like a brother to me.
His Name was Javier
His name was Javier Perales Jr, I called him Perales and he was one of my friends. We met in SOI (School of Infantry) I had been dropped due to an injury, I met Phil in injured platoon and after we got back to training we were all in the same training platoon together. Training at Camp Pendleton, California to be infantry Marines.
After the first 3 weeks of rifleman first training, I had decided to become a mortarman, not really sure why on this. Phil and I had decided together, it did sound cool to learn all the weapons systems and carry the heaviest(in the infantry). That is where we met Perales, he was a good Marine. Really smart, kind of nerdy so he became a good friend of mine.
We trained together in SOI and became mortarman. When they started calling names to send us to locations I was hoping somewhere on the west coast to be close to family but I ended up getting sent to 3rd Battalion 6th Marine regiment along with Phil and Perales. When we got to the unit it was different than training. The fleet Marine force I guess is something that is hard to describe to someone that hasn’t been there. Either way that’s not really what this story is about, this one is about Perales.
He didn’t really fit in with the older Marines, but then again no one really did unless you were basically on your hands an knees for them. The Marine Corps is different and some people will say I am soft, that’s fine most people don’t even think I am a Marine. Perception is reality. Ask Phil if I know how to hold my own…
We All Swore the Same Oath
Anyways I stuck up for Perales and so did Phil, plus a few of the other newer guys. We helped him stand fire watch. It reminds me of so many stories of him on this day, more so than most. He spoke with a little bit of an accent, but to me everyone was always American. I am now 100% sure that I had friends in high school growing up that were illegal. Or whatever it is the government is calling them now, it used to be aliens until the actual aliens got offended.
I served with a lot of guys that where from other countries as their first Nationality. They were wearing the same name tags as me, the same branch of service and we swore the same oath. So why pick on a Marine? I can understand discipline, but to mess with someone because of the way he speaks, or the color of his skin is absurd to me.
This Shouldn’t Have Happened
I loved Perales and the way he was treated by my senior Marines was a tragedy. It pushed Perales over the edge. Myself, Phil and the few other guys who could stand up for Perales where moved to a separate platoon. We went to Guard Force, which is a story in itself. But Phil and I got seperated from Perales and the older Marines pushed him, clearly. He shot himself. It’s pretty obvious you have to draw a line and if there is no one there to speak to, to share the burden, or stand up against someone just being a dick. Then everyone gets to live with the consequence.
I lost a brother this day 12 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t remember him. Semper Fi Perales, until we meet in Valhalla!
A Message from Phil
This is a message Phil sent me the other day.
“When I met Javier Perales it was after I got picked up in Infantry Battalion. He was a fun kid, always ready to eat a meal with ya and learn about mortarman knowledge with ya. A real smart guy. He may have leaned on us hard but we loved the guy, enough to make sure he was getting treated ok. There was those of us, the big guys, the muscle, that could wrestle or fight and didn’t see some punk ass little deployment as a reason to pick on others. So they separated us, they removed us from the others. Perales was a nerdy kid from Laredo Texas with a nice family. He was a nice guy and he was treated so badly that the guy took his own life. I will never rest until the leadership that failed him is held accountable according to the UCMJ.”
– Corporal Phillip T, Soliz, United States Marine Corps
Please Remember Perales Too
Phil and I trained together and I guess he is talking about me being able to fight because I do not take shit from anyone. I never have and I never will. I will fight for everyone by myself if I have too, because its like Edmund Burke said; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand and do nothing.”
Well I am standing and speaking out is all any of us really can do. Because the fighting has to end, the only people that are truly hurt are the ones that are lost forever. Semper Fi Perales, you are never forgotten.