Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Derek Hernandez

Edinburg, Texas

June 6, 2010

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
20 Marine L/Cpl

3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Pendleton, California

 Killed while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

From Valley Central valleycentral.com 06/15/10:

Lance Corporal Derek Hernandez laid to rest
by Katie Lopez
Posted: 06.15.2010 at 9:31 PM
He had a smile that could light up a room.

At just 20 years old Lance Corporal Derek Hernandez was already considered a hero.

"He's my hero, he's our hero,” said Derek’s brother Israel Riley Hernandez. “He died doing what he wanted to do and that's fighting for our country and for our freedom."

Hundreds gathered to honor the fallen Marine who was killed while serving his first tour in Afghanistan.

While the pain of losing a son, brother, and best friend hit those who knew Derek best hard,"this was just so unexpected, no one expects this."

The outcry of support from those who did not know him helped the family get through this difficult time.

"The support is unbelievable it's amazing," said Hernandez.

Onlookers watched as Derek’s mother, Virginia, accepted an American Flag as her son was given the full military honors he deserved.

Despite the tragic circumstances, all who knew Derek say he is not far. 

He's in our hearts,” said Derek’s father, Israel Hernandez.“I'll see him through my younger sons."

From The Monitor themonitor.com 06/07/10:

Edinburg Marine killed in Afghanistan
June 07, 2010 10:11 PM
Jared Taylor
The Monitor
EDINBURG — The bedroom of Lance Cpl. Derek Hernandez remains as it was before he deployed to Afghanistan less than two months ago.

Photos of the smiling young Edinburg man line the mirror on his dresser; a hand-drawn calendar marking his progress through basic training is still tacked to the wall less than two years after he graduated.

A circled star marks Helmand Province on a large Afghanistan map, marking where he had been deployed.

“He was a very meticulous young man,” said his aunt, Anita Reyna. “Everything had to be perfect.”

Hernandez, 20, died Sunday alongside two fellow Marines in Helmand Province. Details about the incident remain unclear, but the Defense Department announced late Monday that

Hernandez died alongside Sgt. Brandon C. Bury, 26, of Kingwood, Texas, and Cpl. Donald M. Marler, 22, of St. Louis.

Hernandez is the 31st member of the armed forces from the Rio Grande Valley — and the fifth Edinburg native — to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003.

Hernandez’s mother, Virginia Reyna, said she learned of her son’s death early Sunday afternoon, when two officials showed up at her door and told her her son died while traveling in a vehicle. No further details were available, she said.

“It’s just so hard he’s gone,” Reyna said. “As soon as I saw those soldiers out there, I knew it.”

Reyna grieved alongside relatives at her north Edinburg apartment Monday morning. She said she last spoke with her son on Wednesday, when Hernandez said he had just received one of the care packages that she sent — he had asked for sandals and toothbrushes.

“He said everything is going to be OK,” Reyna said.

Relatives described Hernandez as a bright, driven young man devoted to his hometown, his friends and, especially, his family.

Hernandez worked as a Military Police officer when stationed at Camp Pendelton, Calif., and served as an infantryman when he was deployed on his first tour of duty in late April. Upon ending his time in the Marines, relatives said Hernandez wanted to enter a career in law enforcement and to help his community.

“His thing was to accomplish this,” said his uncle, Tony Reyna. “Nothing was going to hold him back. Nothing.”

Hernandez’s body is expected to return to the Rio Grande Valley within the next two weeks, his family said.

A safety for the Edinburg Bobcats high school football team, Hernandez spent most of his time with his friends and cousins. In all the photos of him in his bedroom and living room of the small apartment he shared with his mother, only his Marine portraits show him without a smile.

“The only reason he wasn’t smiling is they wouldn’t let him,” Anita Reyna said.

Hernandez maintained a unique blend of discipline with kindness, relatives said. No more clearly does that show than in the meticulously hung camouflage caps and the huge Afghanistan map alongside the Whataburger table tent and Chick-Fil-A cow that sit on his dresser.

Anita Reyna said her nephew marked the map on Helmand Province so his family would always know where he’d gone.

“He always said, ‘Don’t touch or mark anything, because I’m going to be home.”

From A Capitol Blog acapitolblog.com 06/07/10:

Our community is slowly coming to terms with the tragic news that Edinburg native, Lance Cpl. Derek Hernandez has been killed in action in Afghanistan while on patrol. Derek, a 2008 graduate of Edinburg High School, was 20 years old. A U.S. Marine, he is the 31st soldier from the Rio Grande Valley and 5th from Edinburg who has been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
I am saddened that we have lost another young man to war. My condolences and prayers go out to his family. Derek Hernandez will not be forgotten. He will be woven into the tapestry of selfless service to country that has made this city a "Hometown of Heroes".
It is expected that the family and our larger community will receive the remains of our young soldier in 10 to 14 days. Derek Hernandez, joins Dustin Michael Sekula, Mark Zapata, Benito Ramirez and Christopher Ramirez on the list of sons lost from Edinburg.

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