Rodolfo Hernandez, 82, Dies; Awarded Medal of Honor
The New York Times
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: December 24, 2013
Rodolfo Hernandez, who received the Medal of Honor for rushing into heavy fire while wounded and armed with only an inoperable rifle and bayonet and then killing six enemy soldiers during the Korean War, died on Saturday in Fayetteville, N.C. He was 82.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced his death on itswebsite. Mr. Hernandez was an Army corporal trying to hold a hill in May 1951 when his platoon was overwhelmed by attackers accompanied by heavy mortar, artillery and machine gun fire.
Corporal Hernandez had already been struck by grenade fragments and was bleeding heavily from a head wound when his commanding officer ordered his platoon to fall back. He continued firing until his rifle malfunctioned, then threw six grenades and charged at the opposing foxholes.
“I took my rifle and fixed the bayonet,” he was quoted as saying in “Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words,” by Larry Smith, “and then I yelled, ‘Here I come!’ ”
He managed to kill six attackers before falling unconscious from grenade, bullet and bayonet wounds. His action allowed his unit to retake the hill.
Corporal Hernandez was so badly wounded that his comrades initially took him for dead. They were placing him in a body bag when someone noticed movement in his hands, said his wife, Denzil. His injuries were so extensive that he had to relearn how to walk, how to speak and how to write with his left hand (his right arm was permanently damaged).
By the time Corporal Hernandez received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman in the White House Rose Garden on April 12, 1952, he was able to speak a few words.
Rodolfo Hernandez was born on April 14, 1931, in Colton, Calif. His early education ended after the eighth grade, but he studied business administration at Fresno City College for three years after returning from the war. He eventually became a counselor for the Veterans Administration in Los Angeles and had three children with his first wife, Bertha. They divorced, and Mr. Hernandez retired from the V.A. in 1979 and moved to Fayetteville. He married Denzil in 1995.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.