Hispanic Medal of Honor Recipient Rodolfo Hernandez Dies

Hispanic war hero led a bayonet attack during Korean War

  Rodolfo P. “Rudy” Hernandez, an Army paratrooper who received the Medal of Honor after single-handedly carrying out a bayonet assault on enemy forces during the Korean War, died Dec. 21 at a veterans’ hospital in Fayetteville, N.C. He was 82.

Hispanic Medal of Honor winner Rodolfo Hernandez Rodolfo Hernandez with West Point cheerleaders. photo courtesy of the U.S. Military Academy

He had been treated for cancer and other ailments, the Fayetteville Observer reported. Mr. Hernandez was a 20-year-old Army corporal when, despite being severely wounded, he leapt from his foxhole and — armed with nothing more than the bayonet on his disabled rifle — ran toward North Korean troops. He was a member of Company G of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team when his unit was hit by an artillery barrage about 2 a.m. on May 31, 1951. Amid the rain-soaked darkness on what U.S. troops called Hill 420, Mr. Hernandez and his foxhole mate fired on enemy positions, even after both were wounded by shrapnel. “I was struck all over my body by grenade fragments,” Mr. Hernandez told Larry Smith for the 2003 book “Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words.” A piece from an artillery shell pierced Mr. Hernandez’s helmet, shearing off part of his skull. Then his rifle jammed. “I was hurt bad and getting dizzy,” he told the Fayetteville Observer in 1986. “I knew the doctors could not repair the damage. I thought I might as well end it now.” Read the full Washington Post article here