Palmerton has acknowledged one of its own with a prestigious distinction.
A resolution to recognize Lt. Gen. Rhett A. Hernandez for his dedication of many years of service to our country as a member of the Armed Service was adopted by borough council on Thursday.
Council approved the resolution on a 6-0 vote as Elizabeth Koch, the mother of Hernandez, sat in attendance.
Councilman Richard Nothstein, who has close ties to Hernandez, read the resolution and offered his own perspective.
"He is probably the only higher officer who takes his troops from the lowest to the highest and commends them for what they do," Nothstein said. "And his understudies love him."
At that, Nothstein presented Koch with a plaque of the resolution.
Koch said she was grateful to council for the recognition.
"Thank God I'm alive to see it," Koch said. "Thank you all very much; it means a lot to me."
Hernandez was promoted last month to the rank of lieutenant general at Fort Belvoir, Va, in a ceremony presided over by Gen. James D. Thurman, commanding general, U.S. Forces Command.
He assumed command of the U.S. Army Cyber Command Oct. 1 of last year. Army Cyber is the Army Service Component for Cyberspace Operations.
Hernandez was commissioned second lieutenant, artillery, from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., June 2, 1976. Throughout his 34 years of service, he has served in numerous key field and staff assignments.
He has commanded several units, such as the 3rd Batallion, 16th Field Artillery and the Division Artillery, 4th Infantry Division located in Fort Hood, Texas. He also served as the Assistant Division Commander, 1st Armored Division, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Alexandria, Va.
Hernandez has also served as a strategic planner with the Office of Personnel Management System Task Force in Alexandria, Va.; the Chief of Operations Division for the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C.; director of the Office of Personnel Management Directorate and Chief of the U.S. Military Training Mission in Saudi Arabia.
He is a graduate of the field artillery basic and advanced courses, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College located at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and the National War College at Fort Leslie J. McNair, Washington, D.C. He holds a bachelor of science degree from the United States Military Academy, a master of education degree in systems engineering from the University of Virginia, and a master of science degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
His decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal (2nd Award) with one oak leaf cluster; Defense Superior Service Medal (2nd Award) with one oak leaf cluster; Legion of Merit (2nd Award) with one oak leaf cluster; Bronze Star Medal meritorious; Service Medal (5th Award) with four oak leaf clusters; Army Commendation Medal (5th Award) with four oak leaf clusters; Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award) with one oak leaf cluster; Combat Action Badge, Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, and Army Staff Identification Badge.
Also on Thursday, council, on a 5-0 vote with one abstention, agreed to spend $977 for the installation of seven apparatus seats inside fire engine 714.
Councilman Jason Behler, who abstained from the vote, said the seats were purchased through the firefighters relief association to correct a seat belt issue in the apparatus.
Behler said the seats have been purchased and are currently in inventory at KME Fire Apparatus in Nesquehoning.
In an unrelated matter, Nothstein updated council on the status of the veterans memorial that will be erected next year in the borough park.
Nothstein said that while he has received cooperation from the borough, Bowmanstown, and Towamensing Township to mail out a brochure to residents in those respective communities in search of names of those veterans to be honored on the memorial, Lower Towamensing has not given its consent to send out the brochure.
The Palmerton United Veteran's Organization and the borough plan to build the memorial to honor all of the Palmerton area servicemen and women as a tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and to those who served to preserve our freedom.
The memorial will include names of veterans from the American Revolutionary War era to the present – a span of over 230 years – who either entered the service while a resident of the Palmerton area, or who have lived in the area at least half of their adult life.
The centerpiece is a sculpture entitled "Some Gave All," and depicts a gun and helmet. The sculpture will be surrounded by a wide walkway and standing stones with the names of veterans.
Those who were killed in action will be named on the base of the sculpture. To qualify, veterans need not have seen action. Peacetime veterans will also be honored.
The memorial will be located on a section of land 35-by-40 feet in size in the lower southwest corner of the borough park, where the present flagpole is situated, and will include a list of all veterans' names on granite monuments from all time periods of service.
It will be dedicated on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, to mark the 100-year celebration of the borough.
Nothstein said forms may still be picked up at the borough office, as well as the Country Harvest Family Market.
The necessary information should include the individual's name, branch of service, dates of service, rank, date of birth, residence at time of induction, and years living in the Palmerton area.
The information should be sent to the Palmerton Legion, P.O. Box 84, Palmerton, Pa. 18071, or Palmerton VFW, 2020 Forest Inn Road, Palmerton, Pa. 18071.
In other business, council:
- Approved the request of the Palmerton American Legion to hold its annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 30. The parade will form at Second and Delaware Avenue between 9:30 and 10 a.m.
- Adopted a no parking ordinance on Princeton Avenue in the vicinity of the Village of Palmerton, handicapped parking in the 500 block of Fourth Street, as well as seasonal parking restrictions on Lafayette Avenue west of Third Street.