A judge knows the law. But Larry J. Hernandez knew the flag.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Larry J. Hernandez, who grew up in Corona, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 30, 2020, at age 68. (Photo courtesy of Hernandez Family)
So when the retired Green Beret and Army master sergeant saw the American flag displayed wrongly in a courtroom, he told the bailiff. Metrolink also got a call from Hernandez when he noticed the U.S. flag on the wrong side at a train station.
Love of country, attention to detail, a sense of humor and an outgoing personality came to define Hernandez, who was commander of the American Legion Joe Dominguez Post 742 in Corona. The married father of four, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of three, who lived in Eastvale in his later years, died of the coronavirus Dec. 30 at age 68.
“If we were at a party, he would be the party,” said Molina Erb, Hernandez’s daughter. “If you were sitting at a bar, he would introduce himself to you and get to know you.”
One of Hernandez’s sons, also named Larry, said the military and this country “meant everything” to his father. Being in the legion, his son said, was “a continuation” of that love and a way for his father to give back.
“Especially giving back in the city that raised him,” Erb said.
Born in 1952 in Santa Ana, Hernandez grew up in Corona.
“You could drive around Corona, he could point to every little store and (tell you about) every adventure he had in his life,” his son said.
Larry J. Hernandez, an Eastvale resident who grew up in Corona, is remembered Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Eastvale by his family. From left are his widow Angela Hernandez, 68; and children Molina Erb, 47; Joseph Hernandez, 37; Michael Hernandez, 35; and Larry Hernandez, 49. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
From left, Larry Hernandez, 49; Molina Erb, 47; Angela Hernandez, 68; Joseph Hernandez, 37; and Michael Hernandez, 35; are seen in Eastvale on Thursday, March 11, 2021, with a photo of their beloved husband and father, Larry J. Hernandez. He died of COVID-19 last year. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Hernandez joined the Army at 19 and served 21 years, including deployments to Germany, Panama and Honduras. After leaving the military, he went to work at Mike Miller’s alarm and security camera business in Chino.
Hernandez, Miller said, came to be a mentor to the young technicians.
“He completely organized our warehouse,” Miller said. “His vehicle always had everything (he needed) in it.”
Hernandez, who volunteered his time helping high school students enrolled in Jr. ROTC in Corona, brought that sense of organization to Post 742.
“If you walk in there, every single picture is evenly spaced,” Erb said. “He’d get in there with a ruler and mark them.”
An avid Los Angeles Kings fan and collector of hockey action figures, Hernandez appeared last year in an Altura Credit Union commercial honoring veterans.
“I took an oath. And I’m glad to say that I’ve never never broken that oath,” Hernandez said in the commercial. “It means a lot to me. I never wanted to be the weak link. I always wanted to be the guy that you count on.”
Erb said the family thinks her father got COVID-19 at an event in late November. He tested positive Dec. 3 and six days later, called an ambulance after having trouble breathing.
“The way my mom describes it, when he walked down the stairs and put his hat on, he thought he was coming home,” Erb said.
Hernandez’s son, who said he knows five people who have lost their dads to COVID-19 since December, urged the public to get vaccinated and take precautions to avoid getting the virus.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Larry Hernandez said. “It may not be you. It may not be your friend. But you can pass (the virus) along to someone.”