WASHINGTON – Prince George’s County Police Cpl. Robert Hernandez, a U.S. Army Reserve staff sergeant, was killed in Iraq Tuesday when an explosive device struck his convoy, the department said.
Hernandez, 48, of Silver Spring, was a 24-year military veteran who had been in Iraq since August. He served on the county Police Department for the last 10 years, spending six years working in Hyattsville before moving to Bowie. He had previously worked in the Washington and Baltimore police departments and was a law enforcement officer in Puerto Rico.
He leaves behind a fiancee and three children, ages 8, 18 and 21. A son is also an Army reservist. His parents and other relatives live in Puerto Rico.
“Today this department is deeply saddened by the loss of our brother, Corporal Robert Hernandez,” said Police Chief Melvin High. “On behalf of my office, our command staff and all the men and women of this department, our hearts are with Officer Hernandez’s fiancee and other family members,”
County Executive Jack Johnson also expressed his sympathy.
“I’m heartbroken by this loss, and I know the people of Prince George’s County will keep Corporal Hernandez’s family in their prayers, as I will,” he said. “It is a tragic loss for our county, and the nation.”
According to police, Hernandez was a field training officer who helped new Police Academy graduates gain real-world experience. He earned a unit citation in 2000 for organizing care packages for flood victims in Mozambique.
The Department of Defense has not yet confirmed his death.
Maj. Michael Blow was Hernandez’s commanding officer at the Bowie station. Blow said he was a disciplined officer who was very big on protocol.
“He had a tremendous reputation,” Blow said. “And he had a very polite, but professional, attitude. He had a consuming smile, a contagious smile. He was just a good guy.”
Hernandez was always happy and loved being a police officer, said Prince George’s County Police Officer Kenneth Sinibaldi, a close friend who Hernandez trained. The two liked to get together at Hernandez’s house when they were off duty and watch TV and hang out in the back yard.
He said Hernandez had been enforcing the law in some capacity for 29 years.
“He always talked about how proud he was to serve his country and be a soldier,” Sinibaldi said.
Sinibaldi said Hernandez loved cars and working out, and he was a sixth-degree black belt in karate and a fourth-degree black belt in tae kwon do. Hernandez loved giving back to his community by mentoring children at a local elementary school.
Just about every officer that Hernandez trained considered him a good friend, Sinibaldi said. Even officers Hernandez wasn’t responsible for training came to him for help without a second thought.
“He always had a smile on his face,” Sinibaldi said. “Everybody’s going to miss him.”
– 30 – CNS-3