Posted by: Ron DuBour | February 22, 2011

American Heroes~Rodolfo P. Hernandez (1931)~by rldubour


Knowing your American Heroes

Rodolfo P. Hernandez (1931)

 

Born in Colton, California

Of his siblings there were eight.

As a Mexican-American

A war hero would be his fate.

 

Joined the U.S. Army

With his parents consent.

At the age of seventeen

Basic training is where he went.

 

Upon completing basic

Volunteered for paratrooper school.

For training sent to Germany

For paratroopers skills and rules.

 

In the 187th Airborne

Regimental Combat Team.

His unit quickly sent to Korea

Munsan-ni Valley was the scene.

 

Fought bloody battles in Inje

And then in Wonton-ni.

At close quarters fighting

Saw many comrades die.

 

Ordered to defend Hill 420

Was superior enemy counterattack.

Wounded with his bayonet gave time

For his team to take Hill 420 back.

 

A grenade explosion hit him

Unconscious and thought was dead.

Plus bayonet and bullet wounds

And a severe blow to his head.

 

On April eleventh in fifty-two

President Harry S. Truman.

Presented Rodolfo P Hernandez

The Medal of Honor to this man.

 

Awarded to Cpl. Hernandez

For his gallantry.

For all his heroic actions

As a member of Company G.

 

Now married and has three children

Currently lives in Fayetteville.

Does not call himself a hero

But America always will.

 

 

AUTHOR NOTES: Rodolfo P. Hernandez born April 14, 1931 Hernandez, a Mexican-American, is one of eight children born to a farm worker. At a young age his family moved from Colton where Hernandez was born, to Fowler, California, where he received his primary education. In 1948, when he was 17 years old, he joined the United States Army with his parents’ consent. After completing his basic training, Hernandez volunteered for paratrooper training. Upon the completion of his paratrooper training he was sent to Germany, where he was stationed until the outbreak of the Korean War. On August 27, 1950, the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment was reorganized and re-designated as the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. The unit was quickly sent to Korea. The 187th Airborne performed operations into Munsan-ni Valley, and fought bloody battles at Inje and Wonton-ni. Hernandez was reassigned to Company G of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. His platoon was ordered to defend Hill 420, located near Wonton-ni. On May 31, 1951, his platoon was the object of a numerically superior enemy counterattack. A close-quarters firefight broke out when enemy troops surged up the hill and inflicted numerous casualties on the platoon. Hernandez was wounded during the attack, but he was able to fire upon the rushing enemy troops. After his rifle ruptured, he continued attacking the enemy with his bayonet. His attack enabled his comrades to regroup and take back the Hill. A grenade explosion that blew away part of his brain knocked him unconscious. Hernandez, who had received grenade, bayonet, and bullet wounds, appeared dead to the first medic who reached him. The medic realized, however, that Hernandez was still alive when he saw him move his fingers. Hernandez woke up a month later in a military hospital, unable to move his arms or legs or to talk.

Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company G, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team.

Place and date: Near Wontong-ni, Korea, 31 May 1951.

Entered service at: Fowler, California

Born: 14 April 1931, Colton, Calif.

G.O. No.: 40, 21 April 1962.

Citation:

Cpl. Hernandez, a member of Company G, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His platoon, in defensive positions on Hill 420, came under ruthless attack by a numerically superior and fanatical hostile force, accompanied by heavy artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire which inflicted numerous casualties on the platoon. His comrades were forced to withdraw due to lack of ammunition but Cpl. Hernandez, although wounded in an exchange of grenades, continued to deliver deadly fire into the ranks of the onrushing assailants until a ruptured cartridge rendered his rifle inoperative. Fearlessly engaging the foe, he killed 6 of the enemy before falling unconscious from grenade, bayonet, and bullet wounds but his heroic action momentarily halted the enemy advance and enabled his unit to counterattack and retake the lost ground. The indomitable fighting spirit, outstanding courage, and tenacious devotion to duty clearly demonstrated by Cpl. Hernandez reflect the highest credit upon himself, the infantry, and the U.S. Army.

Rodolfo P. Hernandez is now married and has three children. He is retired from a job at the Veterans Administration and currently lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Carteret County Veterans Council named Hernandez, together with General Kenneth Glueck, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, the grand marshals of its November 11, 2006 annual Veterans Day Parade held in downtown Morehead City.

 


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