“I didn’t want anybody under my command to die.”


Staff Sergeant Omar Hernandez (DOD)

If you read, “It’s a blessing“, this story will resonate with you.

Staff Sergeant Omar Hernandez came to this country from Mexico when he was six months old. He joined the Army at 19, and by the time he was in his mid-twenties he had deployed to Iraq three times.

During his third tour (June 2007), he was on patrol with three other American soldiers and nine Iraqi police recruits in Baghdad when they were ambushed by insurgents. Two of the Iraqis were shot and fell in an exposed intersection. Hernandez’s Executive Officer told Stars and Stripes, “In the position that they were in, had they been left without cover, whoever was shooting could easily have hit them a couple more times and finished the job.”

Hernandez began returning fire, and almost immediately took a bullet in the leg, ripping out a third of his quadriceps. But he knew the wounded soldiers needed to be moved. “I couldn’t let anyone die out there, exposed like that,” Hernandez said. “They were under my command. I didn’t want anybody under my command to die.” (DefenseLink)

Ignoring his own wounds, Hernandez ran into the street and dragged one of the men to a secure area behind a wall. Then he went back. He hoisted the second Iraqi onto his shoulders and carried him to safety. Not until both Iraqis received medical care would SSgt Hernandez allow his own wounds to be treated.

For his actions, Staff Sergeant Hernandez was awarded the Silver Star.

The medal meant the world to him. “For a common person like me to get something like that — it means a lot, and it means a lot to my family.” (DefenseLink)

But it paled in comparison to another honor – during his second tour in Iraq, he was sworn in as a U.S. Citizen. As much as the Silver Star meant to him, he considered citizenship the higher honor.

And he did it the old-fashioned way. He earned it.

Staff Sergeant Omar Hernandez is our hero of the week.

For the DefenseLink article, click here.


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