Hammond soldier's family mourns his loss

January 12, 2009 8:54:34 PM PST
An Indiana soldier was killed January 9 after a IED detonated near his vehicle in Afghanistan. SPC Joseph M. Hernandez, 25, grew up in Hammond, Ind. He was killed in Zabul Province of Afghanistan. Two other soldiers were also killed.

Hernandez leaves behind his wife and two young boys, Jacob, 2 ½; and Noah, 8 months.

Corporal Hernandez joined the army to make a difference.

Two and a half year-old Jacob Hernandez loves to look at pictures of his family, especially his father. He often takes a cell phone to his mother and asks to call Daddy.

Daddy was 25-year-old Joseph Hernandez. He'd been in Afghanistan for only a month and was supposed to be back by March 1 to see Jacob and his nine-month-old brother Noah. A roadside bomb, however, changed those plans. Now his widow is trying to face the reality that he's not coming home.

Hernandez grew up in Hammond but took the train every day to go to high school at Mount Carmel where the principal remembers him as a good student and athlete.

He joined the army after two years of college where he studied mechanical engineering. He planned to finish his degree eventually but the military was something he felt drawn to.

Alison Hernandez communicated with her husband by computer often. And when she never heard from him on Friday she became concerned. A military chaplain later confirmed her worst fears. Now she is left to keep his memory alive for her sons.

There was one major division in the Hernandez family. Joseph was a Sox fan. His wife cheered for the Cubs.

One of the things he agreed to do when he got back though was take her and the boys to a cubs game.

Funeral arrangements are not yet final but services will likely be this weekend in Indiana.