Corporal Raphael Esquival-Cortez is son to ex-Rubble citizen Maria Esquival and General Francisco Cortez. He is an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper and is subordinate to Master Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds.
When Cortez joined the Marine Corps, he was subject to strong prejudice because of his family's past, despite the fact that his mother Maria wasn't actually an Insurrectionist. However, he soon proved himself to be a reliable soldier and advanced to the rank of Corporal by age 22.
In 2559, Sangheili separatist leader Isto 'Vadum arrived at Earth, concealing newborns of his enemies. He threatened Maria with the death of Raphael, in which she relented in helping him. Although Cortez worked with Sangheili before and trusted them, he suspected Isto, but did not confide this to his mother.
Isto later sabotaged a Pelican dropship which resulted in the death of four soldiers, and which Cortez took the blame and received a suspension from active duty.
Reynolds later discovered this and went to fetch him. Raphael was almost killed by a Fallen sniper, and joined Reynolds after the Sergeant killed it.
Raphael then took part in the raid on the Fallen Stealth Corvette. He was part of the team that raided the brig and recovered the Sangheili newborns and his mother.
He was then wounded in a fight with Isto, and passed out soon after. He survived, but required a cloned lung and ribs.
Raphael's team neutralizes Covenant forces on Evanipticia in 2577.
Battle for Kennedy Space Port
By early 2570 Raphael had advanced to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant and was placed under the command of Captain Jacob Forge. He was one of the first batches of replacements for the losses that Forge's company had suffered, and was thus already on Mars when the Covenant attacked.
Raphael led a squad of eight ODSTs to defend the main street. Placing themselves halfway up a building using titanium shields and mounted weapons, they were able to aid the Spartans in preventing the Covenant from advancing down the wide boulevard.
The nine men successfully held the line for well over two and a half hours until they were ordered to fall back. Another half hour went by as they continued to push back all comers. Shortly after the 0930 hours the UNSC fleet arrived and destroyed the orbiting Covenant Fleet, sending the survivors fleeing in to Slipspace. Once they were clear the ships initiated an orbital MAC strike and destroyed most of the Covenant foot troops and allowed the UNSC forces on the ground to mop up.
After the battle Raphael was awarded the Silver Star Medal.