He was a hero to his fellow Marines, his family, and his friends. Thursday, Marine Lance Corporal Jose Hernandez was laid to rest in Pueblo. Governor Ritter ordered flags to fly at half-staff in recognition of Hernandez's death.
Hernandez died on December 14, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on a mission in Afghanistan. At just 19 years old, Hernandez had just begun his adult life. Still he touched the lives of so many, both here in Pueblo and in West Palm Beach, Florida where he graduated from high school.
Words can seldom express the grief a family feels while burying one of their own. As for Hernandez's family, they are heartbroken over the loss of their son, brother, uncle, and cousin.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Angelo Romero, the funeral director and owner of Romero Family Funeral home, says the family is simply grateful for the support they've received. "They're truly overwhelmed with all the good gifts and donations, that they've been receiving in this difficult time," says Romero.
Like many we talked to who knew Hernandez, Romero says he was an outstanding Marine. "He was a great fallen hero. He gave up his life for his country. That has probably been the most focused on here today," says Romero.
Hernandez was awarded a Purple Heart, and received a military burial service. His mother Evangeline Ferrera was given the American flag that covered his coffin.
The level of community support for Evangeline and her family has touched them deeply. "They truly wanted to express to the community, how wonderful they have been, to give them such great support," says Romero.
More than 100 friends, family, and complete strangers touched by his sacrifice attended his funeral mass followed by his burial service. A Marine detail were his pallbearers, and he was carried to his grave site at Roselawn Cemetery in a black horse-drawn carriage.
Lance Corporal Jose Hernandez was born in Sioux City, Iowa but grew up in Pueblo before moving to Florida where he followed his life long dream of joining the Marines.