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Army Cpl. Joseph M. Hernandez

Died January 9, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

24, of Hammond, Ind.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Hohenfels, Germany.; died Jan. 9 in Jaldak, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Maj. Brian M. Mescall and Spc. Jason R. Parsons.

Soldier loved animals, sons

The Associated Press

Joseph M. Hernandez was an animal lover. He once saw a dog fall through a frozen lake, so he jumped in and saved it. At one point, he and his wife shared a two-bedroom apartment with four cats and three dogs.

Hernandez, 24, of Hammond, Ind., died Jan. 9 of wounds suffered when a bomb detonated near his vehicle in Jaldak, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Hohenfels, Germany.

He studied mechanical engineering and biology at Purdue University for two years. In 2002, he surprised his friends and family when he announced he was joining the Army.

“He said it was something he felt he had to do,” said his wife, Alison. “He never had anything bad to say about the military. He just decided to join. He felt it was his duty.”

Hernandez also is survived by his sons, Jacob, 2, and Noah, 9 months.

He enjoyed working on old cars and teaching his older son how to fly mini model airplanes.

When Hernandez was younger, he badly wanted to play piano. The family finally bought one, and he started playing it as it was being carried into the house. His mother asked him how he knew to play, and he said he had been practicing on paper.

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