Joseph M. Hernandez
Corporal, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 022-08
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died January 9, 2009, in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle in Jaldak. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Hohenfels, Germany.
For more information media may contact the
Joint Multinational Readiness Center PAO at 011-49-9472-83-5047.
Alison Hernandez usually received a call from her husband, Hammond native Spcecialist Joseph M. Hernandez, every two days while he was stationed in Afghanistan.
Hernandez was waiting for him to contact her on Friday, but she felt something wasn't right.
"My stomach hurt. I wasn't feeling well. I broke down and cried to my dad, and said 'I need my husband'," she said.
That night, Army representatives delivered the solemn news to her that Joseph was killed earlier in the day in a roadside bomb attack.
Major Brian M. Mescall, 33, of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and Specialist Jason R. Parsons, 24, of Lenoir, North Carolina, also died when an improvised explosive device detonated near their armored Humvee in Jaldak, Afghanistan.
Hernandez, 24, is survived by his wife and two sons -- Jacob, 2 , and Noah, 9 months. He is also survived by his parents, Elva Hernandez and Jessie Hernandez; his two brothers, Jesse and Jason Hernandez; and other relatives.
Specialist Hernandez was recalled as a dedicated father and husband and someone who loved cars, music and animals.
Hernandez joined the Army in 2005 and he was in Afghanistan for the past 6 months. He was stationed in Hohenfels, Germany, as part of the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, and he lived in military housing there with his family.
Alison and the boys traveled back to Northwest Indiana for the holidays, and Joseph was scheduled to join them in early March.
Hernandez played soccer for four years at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, and he boxed at Whiting Boxing Club. He was an altar boy and sang in the choir at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in the Hessville section of Hammond.
Alice Gordon, Alison's grandmother, considered Joseph as one of her grandchildren.
"I loved him dearly and he spent a lot of time at my house," Gordon said.
Hernandez attended Holy Cross, then he entered the mechanical engineering and biology programs at Purdue University in West Lafayette.
Alison Hernandez said that he adopted four cats and three dogs while he was working at the local humane society, including a drowning dog that he saved.
He enjoyed working on old cars and teaching his older son how to fly mini model airplanes.
His wife said she keeps expecting Joseph to text her or get word that it's all a mistake.
"You plan your life and you just have all these things that you want to do and you don't have a chance to do them any more," Alison Hernandez said.
"I talked to him on Wednesday, and he told me everything was fine, but he also was telling me all of his plans that he wanted to do when he got back."
He planned on taking his family to a Chicago Cubs preseason game and eating at Gino's East.
"He was my soul mate," Alison Hernandez said.
The family has not finalized the exact date and time of the funeral services. The funeral service will be conducted at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Hernandez will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on January 23, 2009.
Hernandez used to serve in the Old Guard, which
presided at funerals in Arlington.
16 January 2009:
Specialist Joseph Hernandez, who died January 9, 2009, in Afghanistan, will become the first junior enlisted soldier to receive full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Until January 1, 2009, this was only accorded to officers, Medal of Honor recipients and enlisted members who reach the highest possible enlisted rank of E-9.
Hernandez, 24, of Hammond, Indiana, was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Jaldak.
Two other soldiers, Major Brian Mescall, 33, of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and Sergeant Jason Parsons, 24, of Lenoir, North Carolina, were also killed.
The soldiers were with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Hohenfels, Germany.
Hernandez’s service is scheduled for January 23, 2009, and his military honors will include band, casket team, bugler, escort platoon and a firing party.
“His family opted to proceed without the caisson, in order to schedule the earliest possible date,” Kaitlin Horst, spokesperson for Arlington National Cemetery, said in an e-mail message.
The decision to make full honors available to all enlisted soldiers was made in December by Army Secretary Pete Geren, who said the honors will also apply to members of other services if requested and authorized.
Army assets that currently support military funeral honors at Arlington, he said, will be made available for those funerals.
The Army secretary is the executive agent for all matters concerning Arlington, considered the nation’s most hallowed military cemetery.
Under the new funeral honors policy, eligible enlisted soldiers will be those who were killed as a result of:
• Any action against an enemy of the United States.
• Any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the U.S. military is or has been engaged.
• Action while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed combat against an opposing armed force in which the U.S. is not a belligerent party.
• An act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.
• An act of any hostile foreign force.
• An international terrorist attack against the U.S. or a foreign nation friendly to the U.S., recognized as such an attack by the Army secretary.
• Military operations while serving outside the territory of the U.S. as part of a peacekeeping force.
• Action by friendly fire — that is, non-enemy weapons fire while directly engaged in armed conflict, unless the soldier’s death was the result of the soldier’s willful misconduct.
Enlisted soldiers killed in a combat zone or hostile-fire area as the result of non-hostile actions not noted above will continue to receive standard military funeral honors at Arlington, the policy states.
“Arlington National Cemetery is an expression
of our nation’s reverence for those who served her in uniform, many making
the ultimate sacrifice,” Geren said in a statement released following his
memo. “Arlington and those honored there are part of our national heritage.
This new policy provides a unified basis for all Army soldiers killed in
Indiana soldier, father of 2, killed in Afghanistan
As wife waits by door, military arrives with news of his death
By Lolly Bowean
Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
16 January 2009
On the same day that the body of her husband, who was killed last week while serving in Afghanistan, arrived in Indiana, so did a package.
The package was sent by a family friend in Germany, where the couple lived, and the friend thought that Alison Hernandez would appreciate its contents. And she did, poring over pictures, letters, clothing items and keepsakes, and she was reminded of just why she fell in love with Joseph M. Hernandez.
The first time they met, at the video store where he worked, he let her take her rental video home for free—and she kept the receipt. During their courtship, he left thoughtful notes in her mailbox each morning. He promised her protective father he'd take care of her. He was an attentive and loving father to their two small children.
On Thursday, she also was reminded that he's gone and she's left alone to raise their children, Jacob, 2, and Noah, 8 months.
"It was really hard when they carried the casket toward me," she said. "I broke down. It's hard because now he's here, but he's not here."
Corporal Joseph M. Hernandez, 24, was one of three soldiers who died last week in the Zabul province of Afghanistan. He suffered fatal wounds when an improvised device detonated near the vehicle in which he was riding, officials reported.
On Thursday, and almost every day since he died, Joseph Hernandez's family and closest friends gathered in Dyer, Indiana, to comfort each other. The family plans to have a wake on Friday and hold funeral services on Saturday.
According to his wife, Joseph Hernandez grew up in Hammond and was a brainy graduate of Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago. He studied mechanical engineering and biology at Purdue University for two years. In 2002, he surprised his friends and family when he announced he was joining the Army.
"He said it was something he felt he had to do," Alison Hernandez, 22, said. "He never had anything bad to say about the military. He just decided to join. He felt it was his duty."
The couple married in 2005 and started a family. Last year, they moved to Hohenfels, Germany, where he was stationed and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment.
In December, Alison Hernandez brought their two children to Dyer to visit relatives for the holidays. And Joseph Hernandez took off for what was supposed to be a short assignment in Afghanistan.
On January 9, 2009, Alison Hernandez said she just didn't feel right all day. She lingered in the house and relayed her nervousness to her father and friends.
She was standing on the front porch, waiting for her in-laws to come pick her up for a shopping trip, when the military vehicle arrived and a chaplain and a soldier got out.
"It was a nightmare come true," said Robert Gordon Jr., Alison Hernandez's father. "I heard her scream from the porch. I got up and she fell through the door. 'He's gone.' "
Joseph Hernandez will be buried at Arlington
January 16, 2009
Fallen Soldier Comes Home
By Christin Nance Lazerus
Courtesy of The Post-Tribune
Corporal Joseph M. Hernandez's family sat in a hangar at the Gary/Chicago International Airport waiting for the arrival of his body on a bitterly cold Thursday morning.
Hernandez was killed along with two other soldiers in a roadside bomb attack on January 9, 2009, in Jaldak, Afghanistan.
Family members held hands and tears streamed down their faces as military representatives escorted the flag-draped casket from the plane and into the hangar and expressed their condolences to the family.
Several family members lay their heads down atop the casket as an embrace.
Hernandez's wife, Alison, said the ceremony was difficult.
"My sons, (Jacob, 2, and Noah, 9 months) they don't really know about anything that's going on," she said. "Jacob just points at pictures and says 'Daddy's at work.'
"I've told him that Daddy's not at work any longer, but he doesn't understand it yet."
The family will hold Hernandez's wake from 2 to 8 p.m. today at Kish Funeral Home, at 10000 Calumet Avenue in Munster.
The funeral Mass is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 7140 Arizona Ave., Hammond.
Hernandez will be buried January 23, 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery.
A trust fund for Hernandez's sons has been
set up at Citizens Financial Bank. Donations are accepted at any branch
for Jacob and Noah Hernandez.
Joseph M. Hernandez, 24, was a family man with a wife and two young sons. But he was also an Army man and a soldier. Yesterday, he became the first enlisted soldier to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery under a new policy that allows those killed in action full military honors.
"He said it was something he felt he had to do," his wife, Alison Hernandez, 22, told the Chicago Tribune last week about his military service. "He never had anything bad to say about the military. He just decided to join. He felt it was his duty."
Specialist Hernandez, of Hammond, Indiana, died January 9, 2009, in the Zabul province of Afghanistan after a makeshift explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Jaldak.
Hernandez was the 82nd casualty from Afghanistan to be buried there. The new Army policy took effect January 1, 2009. Previously, full honors were reserved for officers and enlisted personnel who reached the highest enlisted rank of E-9, according to cemetery officials.
In the past, limited resources, among other things, have hindered having more full honors services. A standard honors service includes a firing party, bugler and chaplain; full honors also includes a band, colors team, escort platoon and horse-drawn caisson.
"Arlington National Cemetery is an expression of our nation's reverence for those who served her in uniform, many making the ultimate sacrifice," said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren about the policy change in a release last month. "Arlington and those honored there are part of our national heritage. This new policy provides a common standard for honoring all soldiers killed in action."
Hernandez's ceremony didn't include all the elements because of scheduling and weather issues. Both of the cemetery's caissons were already scheduled for use yesterday, and Hernandez's widow opted to have the service sooner rather than waiting for a later date when a caisson would be available, said Kaitlin Horst, cemetery spokeswoman.
And instead of a full military band, there was only a drummer because the band doesn't perform when the weather is below freezing due to the impact of cold on instruments, Horst said. "Anything in addition to standard honors is considered a full honors service," she added.
More than 100 mourners turned out yesterday to return Hernandez to the place where he had served as a member of the Old Guard. An escort removed his silver casket from a silver hearse and carried it to the grave site.
Flags were presented to Alison Hernandez, their two young sons and her husband's parents, Elva and Jessie Hernandez. As the flags were given out, 9-month-old Noah Hernandez, wailed loudly from where he was being held in the front row. His older brother, Jacob, stood in front of the seats and accepted a flag that seemed almost as big as his 2-year-old body.
Killed along with Hernandez were Maj. Brian M. Mescall, 33, of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and Sergeant Jason R. Parsons, 24, of Lenoir, North Carolina. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infant Regiment, based at Hohenfels, Germany. Mescall will be buried at Arlington on Monday.
Alison Hernandez told the Post-Tribune newspaper of Northern Indiana that her husband called her every two days while he was in Afghanistan. On January 9, she waited for the call and felt something wasn't right.
"My stomach hurt," she told the Post-Tribune. "I wasn't feeling well. I broke down and cried to my dad, and said, 'I need my husband.' "
Alison and their sons lived in military housing with Hernandez in Hohenfels. She and the boys came back to the United States for the holidays, and Hernandez was going to join them in March. Instead, on the night of January 9, Army representatives informed her of her husband's death.
"It was a nightmare come true," Robert Gordon Jr., Alison Hernandez's father, told the Chicago Tribune. "I heard her scream from the porch. I got up and she fell through the door. 'He's gone.' ''
HERNANDEZ, JOSEPH MICHAEL
Posted: 13 January 2009 Updated: 16 January 2009 24 January 2009 Updated: 14 July 2009