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25May/12Off

Gallery of Heroes: Stay in the fight

In 2006 and 2007 one of the Morehead City, NC Veteran's Day parade grand marshals was Rudy Hernandez.

As you would expect of a marshal of a Veteran's Day parade, Mr. Hernandez is a veteran, specifically of the conflict in Korea.

Originally from California he joined the U.S. Army in 1948. He volunteered for paratrooper school and upon graduation was stationed in Germany until the outbreak of the Korean conflict.

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.

During the fight his rifle ruptured and became unusable. Most people would find a reason to be somewhere else at that point.

Not Corporal Rodolpho Perez Hernandez. And that day he became a hero.

His Medal of Honor citation reads:

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 machine gun 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. Immediately leaving his position, Cpl. Hernandez rushed the enemy armed only with rifle and bayonet. 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.

The grenade explosion that knocked him unconscious blew away part of his brain. Corporal Hernandez, who had received grenade, bayonet, and bullet wounds, appeared dead to the first medic who reached him. The medic realized that Hernandez was still alive when he saw him move his fingers. Corporal Hernandez woke up a month later in a military hospital, unable to move his arms or legs or to talk.

After many surgeries and physical therapy over a five year period, Hernandez regained limited use of his right arm and learned to write with his left hand.

He is now retired from his job at the Veterans Administration and lives in Fayetteville, NC.

Posted by Knitebane

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