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

L/Cpl Jose A Hernandez - www.OurWarHeroes.org

Jose A Hernandez

West Palm Beach, Florida

December 14, 2010

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
19 Marine L/Cpl

1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

 Killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

L/Cpl Jose A Hernandez - www.OurWarHeroes.org

From The Palm Beach POst palmbeachpost.com 01/11/11:

Friends, classmates, veterans honor fallen Marine in vigil at Lake Worth Beach
9:58 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
Julius Whigham Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

One by one the candles were lit in front of a photo of Marine Lance Cpl. Jose A. Hernandez.

The crowd stood silent as a bugler played "Taps." Moments later, they sung "God Bless America."

More than 100 people gathered for the memorial vigil at Lake Worth Beach Friday night. It was a chance to remember a friend and classmate from Lake Worth High School, for some. For others, it was chance to honor a fellow Marine.

All came to honor Hernandez, 19, who was killed Tuesday after he stepped on a land mine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

"This is not the first ceremony that I've been to like this and, as much as I wish I've never gone to any single one of them, they're doing it right," said Mario Pagan, an active duty Marine home on leave, and a former classmate of Hernandez's. "The one thing that I can more than guarantee that he'd want is for everybody to remember him."

Melanie Bernard, a former classmate and one of the vigil organizers, said Hernandez's family wasn't able to attend because they were in Colorado, where Hernandez's funeral will be held.

But Lake Worth High classmates came for closure, Bernard said. "It's just saying goodbye and getting everyone that knew him from high school together and that's all I really wanted, is just for all of us to get together and cope with it."

Mirna Collazo, Hernandez's ex-girlfriend, thought of a promise that Hernandez made before he was deployed to Afghanistan. Collazo said that she and Hernandez dated for about four months, but separated in large part because he didn't want her to carry the burden of his fighting in a war.

"He always said, 'I don't want it to be hard on you,'" Collazo said. "But little did he know, it still is. He said, 'If you promise me that you're going to see me when I get back, I'll promise you that I'll come back.' Now I'm just left with his promise."

U.S. Congressman-elect Allen West and former Congressman Mark Foley were among those attending the vigil.

"It's sobering, it's sad," said West, a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. " This is a fallen comrade. Having been in the military for 22 years, having been in Helmand Province and Kandahar and Zabul province in southern Afghanistan for two and half years, this is near and dear to my heart."

Said Foley: "It's sad because he's from my alma mater, so there's a connection in Lake Worth from the school in which I graduated in 73. But it's also the sad pain that I always carry when we lose a soldier in battle. I had to vote to authorize the invasion of Afghanistan and so it's a heavy responsibility. Because you realize that you sent these kids, along with the President, to do battle for this nation. He died for his family, his friends and his country and you can't give enough praise."

Several veterans also attended the vigil to show their respects.

"I heard it on the news and I said, 'Here's a fellow Marine and 19 years old was the average age of the guys that died in Vietnam,'" said Gary Tabor, a Vietnam veteran and retired Marine corporal from Boynton Beach. "The least I could do was come down and pay my respects."
From The Palm Beach POst palmbeachpost.com 12/23/10:

Lake Worth High graduate killed in Afghanistan buried with military honors in Colorado
6:52 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010
Peter Roper The Pueblo Chieftain

PUEBLO, Colo. - Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Hernandez was buried here Friday, two days short of his 20th birthday. The Lake Worth High School graduate who'd spent his early childhood in Pueblo, was killed on Dec. 14 by an exploding mine while on patrol in Afghanistan.

A Marine honor guard in dress blue uniforms - their hats, belts and gloves a crisp white - solemnly drew the flag-covered casket from a horse-drawn hearse at Roselawn Cemetery and with deliberation carried their comrade's body to where his grief-stricken family was waiting. A cold gray sky had cleared into hazy winter sunshine.

A detail of seven Marines fired three loud volleys into the sky and that caused several babies in the crowd to burst into tears. But there had already been many tears from Hernandez's friends and family as they laid hands on the silver casket one last time during the midday burial.

"We never want to let go of those who are dear to us," Monsignor Leonard Rakki had declared at the funeral Mass, his voice carrying over the crowd of about 150 mourners who came to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. "Jose understood that, even as he made his decision to defend this country, even at the risk of his own life."

The service was intended to offer solace to a grief-stricken family and their pain was all too real. Evangeline Ferrera, the young Marine's mother, had to be physically helped to her seat in the cathedral by her husband Eduardo and other relations, including her other son, former Marine Cpl. Don Hernandez.

Jose had followed his older brother's lead in joining the Marines just after graduating from Lake Worth High in 2009.

"Joining the military is something Jose wanted to do for some time," Don Hernandez explained Thursday. "My brother just went at life head on, and joining the Marines was part of that."

Jose Hernandez was born in Sioux City, Iowa, but his family lived in Pueblo until he was 8 years old. Then they departed for Florida, where the boys spent their teenage years. The parents moved back to the Pueblo area several years ago and the family has numerous relatives in the area.

On Saturday, more than 100 friends and former Lake Worth High classmates gathered for a memorial vigil at Lake Worth Beach, lighting candles in front of a photo of Hernandez to honor him and say goodbye.

"This is not the first ceremony that I've been to like this and, as much as I wish I've never gone to a single one of them, they are doing it right," said Mario Pagan, a Marine home on leave and a former classmate of Hernandez's. "The one thing that I can more than guarantee that he'd want is for everybody to remember him."

Thursday's funeral was attended by more than just family and friends. Members of the Patriot Riders motorcycle group held American flags at all the entrances to the cathedral. Inside, members of the Marine Corps Legion in their red sport coats were easy to spot in the pews.

City Councilman Leroy Garcia and his brother Evan, both former Marines, wore their dress uniforms to the Mass. Former Pueblo County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Maestas, an Air Force veteran, came in his military uniform as well. Other veterans in their former uniforms were in the crowd as well - an unspoken show of support for the Hernandez family.

Local restaurant owner Walt Gomez came early to the service, when few people had arrived yet. He hadn't known the young Marine. He just felt compelled to attend.

"I believe in these young people, in what our military is doing," Gomez said. "But this is so sad. This young man hadn't even begun to live yet."
LCpl. Jose A. Hernandez 19, of Colorado and West Palm Beach, FL. Would have turned 20 next week.
December 19, 2010 at 10:55am
One by one the candles were lit in front of a photo of Marine Lance Cpl. Jose A. Hernandez.

The crowd stood silent as a bugler played "Taps." Moments later, they sung "God Bless America."

More than 100 people gathered for the memorial vigil at Lake Worth Beach Friday night. It was a chance to remember a friend and classmate from Lake Worth High School, for some. For others, it was chance to honor a fellow Marine.

All came to honor Hernandez, 19, who finished his mission December 14, 2010 after stepping on an IED while on foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He had been in the Marines Corps for two years and would have come home in just four months.

"This is not the first ceremony that I've been to like this and, as much as I wish I've never gone to any single one of them, they're doing it right," said Mario Pagan, an active duty Marine home on leave, and a former classmate of Hernandez's. "The one thing that I can more than guarantee that he'd want is for everybody to remember him."

Melanie Bernard, a former classmate and one of the vigil organizers, said Hernandez's family wasn't able to attend because they were in Colorado, where Hernandez's funeral will be held.

But Lake Worth High classmates came for closure, Bernard said. "It's just saying goodbye and getting everyone that knew him from high school together and that's all I really wanted, is just for all of us to get together and cope with it."

Mirna Collazo, Hernandez's ex-girlfriend, thought of a promise that Hernandez made before he was deployed to Afghanistan. Collazo said that she and Hernandez dated for about four months, but separated in large part because he didn't want her to carry the burden of his fighting in a war.

"He always said, 'I don't want it to be hard on you,'" Collazo said. "But little did he know, it still is. He said, 'If you promise me that you're going to see me when I get back, I'll promise you that I'll come back.' Now I'm just left with his promise."

U.S. Congressman-elect Allen West and former Congressman Mark Foley were among those attending the vigil.

"It's sobering, it's sad," said West, a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. " This is a fallen comrade. Having been in the military for 22 years, having been in Helmand Province and Kandahar and Zabul province in southern Afghanistan for two and half years, this is near and dear to my heart."

Said Foley "It's sad because he's from my alma mater, so there's a connection in Lake Worth from the school in which I graduated in 73. But it's also the sad pain that I always carry when we lose a soldier in battle. I had to vote to authorize the invasion of Afghanistan and so it's a heavy responsibility. Because you realize that you sent these kids, along with the President, to do battle for this nation. He died for his family, his friends and his country and you can't give enough praise."

Several veterans also attended the vigil to show their respects.

"I heard it on the news and I said, 'Here's a fellow Marine and 19 years old was the average age of the guys that died in Vietnam,'" said Gary Tabor, a Vietnam veteran and retired Marine corporal from Boynton Beach. "The least I could do was come down and pay my respects."

LCpl. Hernandez was a rifleman assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

From the time Jose Hernandez was a child, he always wanted to become Marine, recalled his family and friends.

"He just wanted to serve his country. He just wanted to be a Marine," Jose's cousin said.

She said Jose was also inspired by his older brother, Don, who was discharged earlier this year after serving four years in the Marines. Don accompanied his parents to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet the returning body of his younger brother, who will be buried in Colorado.

The brothers were very close, and proud to be serving together, Jose's sister-in-law said.

She said he thought about studying aviation after completing his service.

"He was just a good person," she said. "Nobody had anything bad to say about him."

As a young child, Jose lived in Pueblo, Colorado with his mother and father. The family moved to West Palm Beach Florida, where Jose stayed to live with his aunt's family in the suburb of Greenacres. He attended Lake Worth Community High School in West Palm Beach, and participated in the R.O.T.C. program, working toward his goal of becoming a Marine.

In June 2009, Jose realized his childhood dream, joining the Marines after graduating from high school. His former R.O.T.C. members say being a Marine was a goal Hernandez always had and he died making that dream a reality.

Lance Cpl. Hernandez had come home to visit family and friends on leave from Camp Lejeune during the summer. Then he deployed with the Marines to Afghanistan in September 2010 on his first combat tour.

Wednesday night , his sisters, aunts, cousins and close friends gathered at his Greenacres home to remember the fallen hero.

Lance Cpl. Jose A. Hernandez sacrificed himself and that's where his big heart comes in because he would rather put himself out there first.

"He used to live with us when he went to high school and he was like a brother to me," said his nephew Richard Nava.

Hernandez graduated from Lake Worth Community High School in 2009 and participated in the R.O.T.C. program there. Former R.O.T.C. members say being a Marine was a goal Hernandez always had and he died making that dream a reality.

"I would always ask him in high school what do you want to do when you grow up and it was always to be an infantry soldier in the Marines," said friend Jordan Foe.

Though they are saddened by his death, those who knew him best try to reflect on how he lived and not how he died.

"Great kid. Great kid. And not one bad bone in his body," said his aunt Marciela Madino.

"Always making people laugh even if you were so mad or if you were upset or even scared," added his sister Yolanda Morales.

Foe, who was in the R.O.T.C. with Hernandez, says his heroic act is something even he couldn't fathom. "Anybody can just easily say but when it comes time to do it takes a lot of guts.".

"The people who fight for us are doing it for a reason so that when we go outside we can do what we want without having to worry about stepping on something or getting hurt and these people, like my brother, sacrifice their lives for our freedom," Morales said.

Hernandez was a basic rifleman assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, Camp Lejeune, NC. He joined the Marine Corps in June 2009 and was promoted to lance corporal March 03, 2010.

Most recently, he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in September 2010.
His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Hernandez would have turned 20 the day after Christmas.

Wednesday the flag at Lake Worth Community High School flew at half staff.

Family members say they are grateful his body remained intact and they will have an open casket funeral service. Hernandez will be buried in Colorado

Hernandez graduated from Lake Worth Community High School in 2009. He is being remembered as a hero and a young man who knew what he wanted in life.

"At one point I asked him, so why are you joining Air Force ROTC, and he says 'because there's no Marine ROTC'. So he was very clear," said Colonel Jose Martinez, the Lake Worth Community High School Junior ROTC instructor. Lance Cpl. Jose Hernandez is missed. May He Rest In Peace.

Hernandez's name will be added to the school's memorial wall. School leaders say a name has not been added to the wall since the Vietnam war.

The school's Junior ROTC program is planning to have a special dedication ceremony for Hernandez in January.

Among those Lance Cpl. Hernandez leaves behind are his parents, aunts, brother, sisters, cousins, nephew, and other close family and friends.

Thank you LCpl. Jose A. Hernandez, for your extreme bravery, patriotism and dedication to our great nation and Her ideals. Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice so that we can all rest easy in our beds knowing we live in safety and have our precious Freedoms. You will always be an American Hero in my household. May you Rest In Sweet Peace, and may the Lord bless and comfort your family, friends and comrades.
Sincerely,
Pat
LOS ANGELES -- One of the first U.S. servicemen killed in combat in Iraq was not a citizen of the country for which he sacrificed his life.
Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 22, a rifleman with the Marines, died in a firefight March 21 near Umm Qasr.
Born in Guatemala, Gutierrez held permanent U.S. resident status, which he obtained in 1999.
At 14, with his parents dead, Gutierrez followed the path of 700,000 of his countrymen to California. He made the 2,000-mile journey from his Guatemala City neighborhood without entry papers. He hopped 14 freight trains to get through Mexico. U.S. immigration authorities detained him.
Fernando Castillo, Guatemala's consul general in Los Angeles, says the United States doesn't deport Guatemalan minors who arrive without family. Gutierrez was made a ward of Los Angeles Juvenile Court. He was placed in a series of group homes and foster families. He learned English and finished high school.
When he reached 18, he got residency documents, Castillo said.
Marcelo Mosquera, a machinist from Ecuador, and his wife, Nora, were the last couple that sheltered the lanky teenager. They cared for two younger foster children, as well, at their home in suburban Lomita, said Hector Tobar, a family friend.
Neighbors told the Los Angeles Times that Gutierrez acted as the big brother, taking the younger kids to the nearby McDonald's.
Tobar said Gutierrez talked of becoming an architect but put college plans on hold to join the Marine Corps a year ago. Jackie Baker, the Mosqueras' adult daughter, told Spanish-language KVEA-TV here that Gutierrez "wanted to give the United States what the United States gave to him. He came with nothing. This country gave him everything.
The U.S. Embassy notified Gutierrez's older sister, his only surviving relative, of his death. He will be buried in Guatemala at her request, Castillo said.

Click To Return To Main Page

 Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away

Copyright 2003-2015  Q Madp  PO Box 86888  Portland OR 97286-0888  www.OurWarHeroes.org