Kenner soldier receives Purple Heart - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Kenner soldier receives Purple Heart

NEW ORLEANS - A Kenner soldier is being honored with a Purple Heart after an enemy rocket-propelled grenade hit his unit's armored vehicle in Afghanistan in May.

Spc. Williams Hernandez was injured, but his real scars came from a friend and fellow Guardsman dying in his arms. It happened on My 26, 2013.

"We were traveling on Highway one when a big boom and a big flash hit us and  the truck filled with smoke," Hernandez said.

Members of the 1084th Transportation Company were in an armored vehicle escorting an equipment convoy.  In the gunner's seat, Spc. Christopher Drake. On the grueling mission, the Tickfaw native surveyed the rugged terrain for enemies.

"It can be tiring staring at the monitor and standing there looking  for possible attacks," Hernandez said.

He said he asked Drake if he wanted him to take his place.

"Shortly after me giving up asking we took the hit from an RPG," Hernandez said.

He said they took off to another area and found out there were injuries.

"When we when a pothole, Drake fell into my arms at that time," Hernandez said. "There was nothing I could do for him, so I just held him."

Hernandez caught shrapnel in back of his arm and a tear in the tympanic membrane of his ear because of the explosion. He also had a mild traumatic brain injury. Military doctors sent him back home, fearing an infection. His injuries are the reason he's been awarded the Purple Heart, but he says he's no hero.

"I think it's bittersweet," he said. "My brothers at arms are out there. They haven't made it home. Some of them will never be with their family again because they made the sacrifice."

He said the rest of the 1084th Transportation Unit is due back next year.

 

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