2009-06-12 / Front Page

Arverne GI Dies In Afghan Attack

By Howard Schwach

An Arverne military policeman, scheduled to return to Rockaway on leave at the end of the month, has died in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan, Department Of Defense officials say.

Specialist Roberto Hernandez II in an undated Department of Defense photograph. Specialist Roberto Hernandez II in an undated Department of Defense photograph. Specialist Roberto Hernandez II, 21, was killed on June 2 in Paktya by an improvised explosive device (IED) after the Humvee vehicle he had been riding in came under attack.

Hernandez was a third generation member of the military, officials say. His grandfather, mother, aunt and two uncles all served in the military.

It was no surprise to his friends and family when he volunteered for the Army shortly after he graduated from August Martin High School.

He did surprise his family, however, by volunteering to go to Afghanistan immediately after his basic training.

Hernandez's mother, Paulina Richards, told reporters that he really wanted to serve his country, but that she urged him to choose another assignment.

I wanted him to join the military, but I did not want him to go over there," Richards told Daily News reporters Edgar Sandoval and Larry McShane. "He served over there one year, and he was looking forward to coming home at the end of June."

Family members said that Hernandez wanted to use his experience with the military police to become a police officer or a private investigator after his discharge from the Army.

The family came to the United States in 1969, when his grandfather, Alfonso Tomlison, joined the Army and brought his family from Panama to Rockaway.

"The military brought us to this country," said Hernandez's aunt, who was also an Army veteran. "He paid our debt."

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