Heriberto S. Hernandez, NeighborhoodFriend, U.S. Coast Guard
Vietnam Hero, and Ship’s Name
(Researched & edited by Mario Longoria)
In July 1965, Heriberto Segovia Hernandez finished hissophomore year at John F. Kennedy High School, San Antonio, Texas, and decidedit was time to serve his country. He enlisted in the United States Coast Guard tobegin a military career. After basic training, he received orders for duty onboard the Cutter Bering Strait, homeported in Galveston, Texas. A couple of years later in the spring of 1968, Eddie deployed forduty in Vietnam. It was a tour that began in May with an assignment for duty onthe 82-foot Cutter Point Cypress. ThePoint Cypress along with 16 other navalvessels comprised the Coast Guard component of “Operation Market Time” entrustedwith the responsibility to patrol 1,500 miles of the Vietnamese coastline. (In the photo, Eddie is on the right leaning on theboat)
On December 5, 1968, Eddie volunteered for a small boat reconnaissancealong the Ca Mau Peninsula, located on the southern-most tip of South Vietnam.He joined Commander Charles L. Blaha, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Gordon M.Gillies from the Cutter Point Cypress in a patrol up the RachNang River. The three men were carrying out a reconnaissance mission to locateViet Cong escape routes along the waterway. As they patrolled the river, they observeda shore bunker occupied by Viet Cong soldiers and opened fire on the bunkerdespite the lack of protection on the small boat. According to the firefightaccount, the Viet Cong directed automatic weapons fire toward Hernandez and hiscrew, piercing the boat’s structure. However, Hernandez’s boat handling enabledthem to return fire and evade the enemy’s attack, but not before Hernandez andthe two officers were severely wounded. When they finally reached the safety ofthe Cutter Point Cypress, Hernandezhad sustained mortal wounds and died surrounded by his shipmates.
Edgewood School District veteran Heriberto Segovia Hernandezdied fighting for his country on December 5, 1968 in Vietnam. He died in a warremembered for its action in the jungles and rice paddies. However, there wasanother conflict as well, a sailor’s war, much of it fought from the decks of CoastGuard Cutters and Navy ships that are often times overlooked and/or forgotten. However,Eddie’s service and sacrifice clearly illustrates that duty in any branch ofthe military is a sacred and honorable responsibility that holds everyone accountablefor their beliefs and actions.
In the spirit of remembrance, honor, and tribute, the U.S. CoastGuard recently decided to name their new fleet of (14) Sentinel Class Cuttersafter heroic Coast Guard enlisted personnel. To date, the Coast Guard hascommissioned four Cutters with another four Cutters expected for commissioningin 2013. Of the remaining six cutters scheduled for completion and commissioningin 2014, the last of the six will bear Eddie Hernandez’s name.
The USCG Cutter HeribertoHernandez (WPC 1114), is under construction in the Bollinger Shipyards inPuerto Rico and will join the United States Coast Guard Fleet in 2014.
Abrego, Daniel, PhD. “PersonalInterview.” San Antonio, Texas, May 29, 2013
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Toler, Vern. “The Coast Guardin Vietnam.” (Copied from the Coast GuardReservist). Nov. 1996. <http://www.jacksjoint.com/cgvietnam.hym>.
“S.A. Man, War Victim.” San Antonio Express, Thursday, December12, 1968. 4A
(Photo credit on page 1 –Alan Dillenbeck)