Herminio Hernandez, age 83, of Freeport, FL passed away on May 29, 2021, from diabetic complications at the Superior Residence Assisted Care Facility in Niceville, FL. He was born to Santa Velez and Herminio Bernabé Hernandez on Oct. 18, 1937 in Isabela, Puerto Rico, the oldest of six children. After graduating from the Lateran University in Rome, Italy, he joined the US Air Force. His first assignment after weapon’s control training school was to the 692nd radar site in the little town of Baudette, MN. Here he joined the Sacred Heart Catholic church choir and met his future wife, Marlyss Rivard, at choir practice. They were married on Dec. 28, 1963. Shortly thereafter, Herm and Marlyss moved to Waco, TX where Herm attended navigator’s school. Herm loved flying.
After Texas, Herm and his family moved to Cape Cod and Otis AFB where he flew in the EC-121 radar planes as part of the U.S. early warning system. Herm volunteered to go to Vietnam for a year. While in Vietnam, Herm flew in the EC-47 and was stationed at Pleiku Air Base and Tan Sun Nhut Air Base in Saigon. He served with distinction and survived enemy fire while flying and during the Tet Offensive while living in Officer Housing off-base in Saigon in 1968. After returning from Vietnam, his next assignment took the family to the Panama Canal Zone for four and half years where he flew in the HC-130 doing rescue missions throughout Central and South America. Herm drove his family of five from the Canal Zone to his new assignment at McClellan AFB in Sacramento, CA in 1973 via the Pan American Highway. He continued to fly in HC-130s for search and rescue missions. Five years later, they were back in the Canal Zone where Herm became director of the USAFSO Rescue Coordination Center.
Eglin AFB, Florida, in 1981, was the last assignment Herm had while in the military. He retired in June of 1982 after just over 20 years of service with the rank of Major. He taught Air Force JROTC in Espanola, New Mexico, his first year after retirement, and then returned to Florida where he completed his Masters in Psychology and went to work for the Chautauqua Offices of Psychotherapy and Evaluation (COPE) Center as a mental health counselor in Defuniak Springs, FL. His last job was as a mental health counselor for the Florida Dept. of Corrections at the Walton County Correctional Institute.
Herm’s military awards and citations include the following: Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Combat Readiness Medal w/1 OLC, Air Force Longevity Services Ribbon w/4 OLC, National Defense Services Medal, Air Medal w/6 OLC, Air Force Commendation Medal w/1 OLC and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign medal.
Herm enjoyed sailing, painting, photography, and reading in his spare time. He was a Boy Scout leader, member of the Knights of Columbus, Niceville Catholic Outreach, served as a Steven’s Minister, and belonged to the Pro-Life Group at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Niceville, Florida.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, children; Camille (Mrs. Chad) Parsons of Freeport, FL; Mark Hernandez, and Tony Hernandez, of Tallahassee, Fl and David Hernandez, of Centennial, CO; five grandchildren; Travis Parsons, Jessica (Mrs. Pat) Palkowski, of Freeport, FL; Laura Hernandez, Allan Hernandez, and Teresa Hernandez, of Tallahassee, FL and one great grandchild, Harper Palkowski. One sister, Sonia Hernandez and one brother, Romualdo Hernandez, in Puerto Rico, along with several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters and one brother.
Funeral services will be held at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church June 11 followed by interment at Heritage Gardens in Niceville, Florida.
To view photos of Herm’s life and to leave a comment, go to https://www.fhwebhosting.com/cxj/tributes/Herminio-Hernandez