OTF Soldier Story for November 3, 2008 - Staff Sgt. Omar Hernandez
Current Unit: B Company, 1-77 Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division
Current Position: Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Protocol
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Bliss, Texas
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Years of Service: 9
Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart recipient Staff Sgt. Omar Hernandez showed extraordinary bravery on 6 June 2007, when his team was attacked by insurgents during a dismount patrol in Iraq. When the two members of the Iraqi National Police who he was mentoring were hit and wounded by enemy fire, he risked his life to pull them to safety despite his own injuries. Staff Sgt. Hernandez suffered a bullet wound to the leg which caused nerve damage and a 30% loss of muscle mass in his thigh.
He was medically evacuated from the battlefield in Iraq to Germany and then back to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he underwent seven months of rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Staff Sgt. Hernandez, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq since joining the Army nine years ago as a Reservist, is currently on Active Duty status and stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. Though he began his Army career as a carpentry masonry engineer, he elected to become an infantryman after returning from his first deployment in 2004.
Another significant milestone Staff Sgt. Hernandez experienced while wearing the Army uniform was becoming a U.S. citizen. He was officially naturalized while in theater during his second deployment to Iraq in 2005.
A native of Houston, Texas, Staff Sgt. Hernandez says that when he returns to his hometown he strives to be a role model for kids in the neighborhood where he grew up. He recalls the adversity he overcame as a young person in an environment where many of his friends went to jail or were killed and wants others to see that the future holds great possibilities.