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Mr. Joe Hernandez

Obituary for Mr. Joe Hernandez

February 22, 1924 - August 26, 2020
San Antonio, Texas | Age 96


A lifelong resident of San Antonio, Dad was the fifth of six children born to Enrique Hernandez Martinez and Carlota Hernandez Garza-Villarreal. He was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife of 66 years, Aurora Z. Hernandez; son, George Hernandez and brothers Enrique, Rogelio, Rodolfo, Raul and Ruben Hernandez.

In addition to his family, he had a great love of music, reading and photography. The joke in the family was that everything was a "Kodak Moment" for Dad. He left thousands of photographs, slides and 8MM films as treasured memories.

As a young boy growing up on San Antonio's Westside, where he shined shoes and sold newspapers to help his family, he couldn't have imagined what life had in store for him.

His family ran a small restaurant on Buena Vista St. His dad was a butcher and his mother, a fabulous cook. He and his brothers helped out at the restaurant. Always a lover of music, it was there that he cultivated his appreciation for Jazz. With segregation at its highest, Jazz musicians in town for performances were not welcome in most restaurants so his family's restaurant in downtown San Antonio became a haven for them; and thus, his introduction to Jazz.

His mother's cooking and his father's knowledge of great cuts of meats led him to his appreciation of good food. Ribeye steaks, lamb chops, shrimp with pasta and garlic butter sauce, chiles rellenos, mole, cabrito and flautas were among his many favorites.

Dad was a proud World War II veteran. Family and friends enjoyed listening to his anecdotes about his experiences while serving our country in the U.S. Army Air Corp. He served with the 8th Air Force 93rd Bomb Group as a Top Turret Gunner on B-24s. He participated in 35 bombing missions over Germany and during the Battle of the Bulge.

He would often recall some of his harrowing experiences including being met with a barrage of anti-aircraft fire as his plane and crew approached their target. He would explain how the flak exploding next to them would shake the plane and on three different occasions, the damage was so bad they had to make emergency landings. Yet, it was his own squadron that triggered his closest brush with death. While flying in tight formation, the B-24 was caught in the violent turbulence created by nearby aircraft, a condition called propeller wash. The whirlwind plunged the crew into a tailspin. The pilot gave the order to bail out but there was so much centrifugal force that the crew couldn't move. The craft dropped several thousand feet before the pilot was able to gain control. Eventually they landed safely.

On his 21st birthday he was shipped back to the states on the Queen Mary. He became an aerial gunnery instructor in Boise, Idaho until his honorable discharge in October 1945 with the rank of S/Sgt. For his service Dad was awarded the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, the European Theater of Operations Ribbon with three battle stars for the Northern France, Rhineland and Ardennes campaigns and the Good Conduct Medal.

It was back home after the war that he met and married the love of his life, Aurora Zapata, and reared five children. He worked at Kelly A.F.B. as an Aircraft Electrical Armament Foreman, Equipment Specialist, and Production Management Specialist during a career that spanned 30 years. His retirement years were spent being a "taxi service" to and imparting his wisdom and love of reading and learning to grandchildren. He and mom always enjoyed trips to Las Vegas, San Francisco and most importantly, visiting extended family and friends in Monterey, Mexico. He also became a fixture at Mi Tierra Café and Restaurant for his morning coffee, afternoon merienda and Sunday morning breakfast with Mom enjoying the Marimba music in their Mural Room. More recently he enjoyed reading to and spoiling his great grandchildren.

In 2004 Dad participated and was featured in the U. S. Latinos and Latinas WWII Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin and in 2007 he was interviewed for a PBS documentary on the contributions of Latinos during WWII. In 2015, he travelled to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. with other local veterans on a trip sponsored by Honor Flight of San Antonio.

Our heartfelt appreciation to Fr. Emmet Carolan for taking time to visit with Dad and bring him communion regularly. A long-time family friend, Fr. Carolan will officiate at the Requiem Mass. We would also like to extend a special thanks to Crest Palliative Care; in particular, to Maureen Koeneker and Isela Guerra for their care and compassion over the past few months. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Honor Flight San Antonio de Valero, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. PMB 340, San Antonio, Texas 78247 in his memory.

He is survived by daughters, Christine Hernandez and Eleanor H. Ramirez; sons Marshall Hernandez (Elizabeth Martinez) and Dan Hernandez (Eloy Ortiz); grandsons Eloy J. Ramirez (Amber) and Daniel R. Ramirez (Kelly Lopez), Dominic L. Hernandez and Jonathan M. Hernandez; granddaughters Alyson M. Hernandez, Valerie J. Gutierrez and Clarisa Sanchez (Alfred, III); great-granddaughters Samantha S. and Payton P. Ramirez, Isla J. Gutierrez and Arianna G. Hernandez; great-grandsons Alfred (IV), Vincent and Marcial Sanchez; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Porter Loring Mortuary.

6:30 PM

10:00 AM

A private interment will take place at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
The rosary will be livestreamed on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. as well as the mass on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. and can be viewed via the link:

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Porter Loring Mortuary

1101 McCullough Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78212
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