Palmerton native retires from military
Special to the TIMES NEWS LTG Hernandez receives several commendations from Gen. James Thurman, Commander, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea.
As his service to our country clearly attests, he's earned his stripes and then some.
After a career that spanned nearly four decades, Palmerton native Lieutenant General Rhett A. Hernandez can finally call it a day.
That's because the United States Army recently held a Special Retirement Review in honor of Hernandez at Conmy Hall Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall, Va.
The event was hosted by Gen. James D. Thurman, Commander, United Nations Command-Combined Forces Command-U.S. Forces Korea.
Hernandez joined the Army in 1971. After attending the United States Military Academy Preparatory School at Fort Belvoir, Va., he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, in 1976 with a commission in Field Artillery.
During his more than 39 years of service, Hernandez has commanded units at every level, from platoon to Army Service Component.
His battery commands included B Battery, 2nd Battalion; 33rd Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, Germany; and Service Battery, 1st Batallion, 5th Field Artillery; 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kans.
While serving at Fort Hood, Tex., Hernandez commanded the 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery; 2nd Armored Division, later redesignated 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 4th Infantry Division.
He later returned to Fort Hood, Tex., as the Commander of Division Artillery, 4th Infantry Division. As a General Officer, he served as the Assistant Division Commander (Support), 1st Armored Division, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, Germany and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Hernandez also served as the Commanding General, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Alexandria, Va.
He culminated his career as the first Commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, with forces at Fort Belvoir, Va., Fort Meade, Md., and around the world.
In addition to his command time, Hernandez has served in numerous key staff assignments, including: Strategic Planner, Officer Personnel Management System (OPMS XXI) Task Force, Alexandria, Va.; Chief, Operations Division, J-39, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.; Director, Officer Personnel Management Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Alexandria, Va; Chief, United States Military Training Mission, U.S. Central Command, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and HQDA Assistant G-3/5/7, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C..
Hernandez holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy; a Master of Engineering Degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; and a Master of Science Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C..
His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (3rd Award); Defense Superior Service Medal (2nd Award); Legion of Merit (2nd Award); Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (5th Award); Army Commendation Medal (5th Award); Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award); Combat Action Badge; Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge; and the Army Staff Identification Badge.
Hernandez is married to his high school sweetheart, the former Pat Haydt, of Palmerton. They reside at Fort Belvoir with their dog, Cadence, and have two children, Sarah Zolla and Mark.
Following retirement, the couple looks forward to living near the Fort Belvoir community they have come to love, and spending time with family and friends.