October 16, 2015 - Heriberto Hernandez can be called many things. Fireman. Coast Guardsman. Vietnam veteran. Hero.
But today, the name established a lasting legacy as Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez was commissioned in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Cutter Heriberto Hernandez became the Coast Guard’s 14th Fast Response Cutter, carrying on the legacy of Fireman Heriberto Hernandez.
Hernandez served aboard Coast Guard Cutter Cypress during the height of the Vietnam War, where he made the ultimate sacrifice as he came under enemy fire in South Vietnam in the winter of 1968.
Today, Rear Adm. Scott Buschman, commander of the 7th Coast Guard District, oversaw the ceremony, welcoming the Coast Guard’s newest cutter to the fleet.
Also in attendance was the ship’s sponsor and Hernandez’s mother, Juanita Segovia, honoring her son’s memory and wishing the ship good fortune as she enters the fleet.
I am very thankful to the Coast Guard for remembering my son and what he did when he served,” said Segovia, mother of Heriberto Hernandez and sponsor of the cutter. “However, I miss him dearly and know that nothing on this earth can bring him back to me. I am glad his memory is still alive after all these years.”
Over the past several months, the crew has undergone testing and sea trials on the cutter, ensuring it is ready and capable to conduct the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions throughout the Western Hemisphere. During the initial years, the crew will be led by Lt. Charles Bare, commanding officer of Cutter Heriberto Hernandez.
“We are proud to honor Coast Guard hero Fireman Heriberto Herandez and are excited to bring this new FRC bearing his name to serve and protect the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” said Bare. “Upon commissioning we will be prepared to execute the most challenging maritime security, law enforcement, and national defense missions in the Eastern Caribbean.”
As a combined force, the Fast Response Cutters stationed throughout the Caribbean and in Puerto Rico will provide security and safety throughout the region.
“This is at truly special occasion,” said Capt. Robert Warren, Sector San Juan commander. “The Heriberto Hernandez and the remaining incoming FRC’s will significantly enhance our ability to counter the evolving safety, security and law enforcement threats that face our region. The move also highlights the Coast Guard’s unwavering commitment to the citizens of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and its continued investment and contribution to the safety and security of the Eastern Caribbean.”
Forty-seven years ago, Hernandez worked to protect his fellow crewmembers during the height of the Vietnam War. Today and for decades to come, his namesake will do the same: protect the citizens of the United States.