After his service in the Army was complete, Hernandez worked for the Veterans Administration.
Cpl. Rudy Hernandez cheated death on the battlefields of Korea 62 years ago. But the Medal of Honor recipient and Fayetteville resident couldn’t live forever. The 82-year-old Hernandez died early Saturday at Womack Army Medical Center, according to friends.
Cpl. Hernandez was honored last month as grand marshal of Fayetteville’s Veterans Day Parade.
He rode the parade route in a Korean War-era jeep, waving alongside Gov. Pat McCrory.
But shortly thereafter, Cpl. Hernandez was diagnosed with cancer and several other ailments, said friend Steve Sosa, a retired Army major who serves as president of the Rudy Hernandez Chapter of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association.
Mr. Sosa said he last saw Cpl. Hernandez in the intensive care unit of Womack on Friday.
At the time, doctors were hopeful, he said. But Cpl. Hernandez passed away about 1:30 a.m.
“Rudy was quite a gentleman in war and peace,” Mr. Sosa said. “He was a soldier’s soldier. Everybody loved Rudy Hernandez.”
Cpl. Hernandez, the son of a Californian migrant farm worker, is survived by his wife, Denzil, and three children from an earlier marriage.
He moved to Fayetteville in March 1980 after spending his post-war years working as a veterans benefit counselor in Los Angeles.
Cpl. Hernandez was awarded the Medal of Honor in April 1952 by President Harry S. Truman in a ceremony held in the White House Rose Garden.
Following the award, Cpl. Hernandez became a counselor to wounded veterans of Korean and Vietnam wars, working for the Veterans Administration.- Stars and Stripes
Cpl. Hernandez’s MOH citation read-
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.
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.
RIP Cpl. Rudy Hernandez.