Pampa WWII veteran receives Bronze Star - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Pampa WWII veteran receives Bronze Star

Pampa, TX -- A Pampa native was honored for his bravery in one of the most decisive battles in World War II - 70 years after the fact.

Joe Hernandez graduated Pampa High School in 1944, and the following February he was on the front lines in Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge.

The Battle of the Bulge is widely considered one of the greatest battles in U.S. military history - and a critical turning point in World War II.

And Joe Hernandez was there as a replacement soldier to take the place of the dead and wounded.

"First, we heard the machine guns hit to the right," recalls Hernandez. "And then they (German forces) started laying the artillery on us, and one of the guys got hit right in the head and it killed him. And I just thought, 'Uh oh ... we're in trouble."

Hernandez fought alongside his comrades, staving off the advancing German forces until reinforcements arrived.  The Allied forces ultimately triumphed, but not without taking heavy losses.

"I didn't think about myself," said Joe.  "We fought as a group because we were. And I thought, 'We're in trouble.' And we were - we lost 87 percent of the company. And so I knew we were in trouble."

Joe was awarded the Purple Heart and several other honors before receiving the Bronze Star this evening (Mar. 12).

When I asked him his thoughts about the ongoing war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Joe had only this to say: "I'll be glad when they bring 'em home. And that's it."

If you'd like to learn more about the significance of the Battle of the Bulge, you'll find that at the link attached to this story.

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