Sgt. Eric J. Hernandez
Hometown: Waldwick, New Jersey, U.S.
Age: 26 years old
Died: December 4, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit: Army, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY.
Services for Sgt. Eric J. Hernandez, a soldier from Waldwick who was killed Tuesday in an explosion in Iraq, will be held this week.
Hernandez, 26, was serving his second tour in Iraq with the Army when the vehicle he was riding in ran over an improvised explosive device in the northern town of Bayji. Two other members of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment team were killed in the blast. The unit is based at Fort Campbell, Ky. A statement released by his family Saturday called Hernandez, a conscientious, quiet, caring son who was dedicated to serving our nation.
Hernandez was so devoted to serving his country that he would have volunteered to serve in Afghanistan or Iraq if his unit had not been deployed to Iraq for his second tour there, the family said.
Hernandez was born in Newburgh, N.Y., and raised in West Milford, where he attended West Milford High School and aspired to a career in law enforcement. His family described him as an outdoors type who loved hiking, camping, archery and shooting. He placed second in the 101st Airborne Divisionchr(39)s Top Gun sniper course in northern Iraq.
Wechr(39)re enormously proud of Ericchr(39)s courage and his service, the statement reads. He was a hero who will be forever missed and loved by his family and his many friends.
Hernandez is survived by his mother and stepfather, June Alice Augusta and John Augusta of Waldwick, his father and stepmother, Craig Sr. and Trish Hernandez, of Garnerville, N.Y., a brother, Craig, of Sussex, a sister, Toni, of Butler, and a half-sister, Lydia Hernandez, of Garnerville.
Visitation will be held at the C.C. Van Emburgh Funeral Home at 306 E. Ridgewood Ave. in Ridgewood on Wednesday from 2 to 4 and from 7 to 9 p.m. A memorial service, including military honors, will be held at the funeral home Thursday at 11 a.m.
Birth: Jul. 6, 1981
New York, USA
Death: Dec. 4, 2007, Iraq
Army Sgt. Hernandez was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He died in Bayji from wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. From the time Eric was a little kid he played army with his friends – he just wanted to be a soldier. He was raised in West Milford, New Jersey where he attended West Milford High School but ended up earning a high school equivalency diploma. After graduation, he knew he wanted to join the military and in October 2003 he did. Fellow soldiers remember him as a good soldier who took care of his guys before he would take care of himself. Eric was a decorated soldier, an accomplished marksman and a leader on and off the battlefield. He was a standout sniper who served two tours in Iraq and was the leader of a small group called the Tiger Force snipers. His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Expert Infantry Badge, the Air Assault Badge, and Weapons Qualification. He was later awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. In his final assignment, he was dispatched as part of a rapid response team to dismantle an improvised explosive device. But the vehicle in which he was a passenger struck another IED on the way there, killing him and two other soldiers. Eric was a compassionate person with a big heart. Several years ago, when his best friend didn't have a reliable car because of financial difficulties, Eric casually gave him his own, saying "You need it more than I do." He was a lover of the outdoors and enjoyed hiking, camping, archery and shooting. The family remembers how he had already made plans for when he left the military – he had taken the civil service test to become a police officer. He wanted nothing more than to have a career in law enforcement.
Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.
Specifically: Memorial service held at C.C. Van Emburgh Funeral Home, Ridgewood, New Jersey
Awards and Decorations include...
Army Commendation Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Combat Infantry Badge
Expert Infantry Badge
Air Assault Badge