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First Name: Rodolfo

Last Name: Hernandez

Birthplace: Colton, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Perez

Date of Birth: 14 April 1931

Rank: Corporal

Years Served: 1948-1951
Rodolfo Perez Hernandez

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Rodolfo Perez "Rudy" Hernandez
Corporal, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Korean War

Early Years

Rodolfo Perez "Rudy" Hernandez was born on 14 April 1931 in Colton, CA. A Mexican-American, he was one of eight children born to a farmworker. When Rudy was young, his family moved from Colton to Fowler, CA, where he received his primary education. In 1948, when he was 17 years old, he joined the U.S. Army with his parents' consent.

After completing his basic training, Hernandez volunteered for paratrooper school. Upon the completion of his paratrooper training he was sent to Germany, where he was stationed until the outbreak of the Korean War.

Korean War

On 27 August 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 31 May 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 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 Keith Oates, the first medic who reached him. However, Oates realized 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.

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

Medal of Honor

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

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

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

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.

On 11 April 1952, President Harry S. Truman bestowed upon Hernandez the Medal of Honor in a ceremony held in the White House Rose Garden.

Other Medals and Awards

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Corporal Hernandez was also awarded the following:

Purple Heart
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
United Nations Service Medal

Later Life

Hernandez is married and has three children. He retired from a job at the Veterans Administration and currently lives in Fayetteville, NC.

The Carteret County Veterans Council named Hernandez one of two grand marshals of its 11 November 2006, annual Veterans Day Parade held in downtown Morehead City.

On 10 November 2007, he was again co-grand marshal of the Morehead City Veterans Day Parade. During the event, he was reunited with his rescuer "from a long and far away battlefield," the former Korean War Army medic and current Morehead City resident, Keith Oates.

Honoree ID: 1173   Created by: MHOH




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