Finding life after death

D.J. Petty

Army Specialist’s loved ones keep in touch with his spirit

Although Army Specialist Jason Hernandez died last September, his family and friends insist on keeping his spirit alive.

On his still-active MySpace page, titled “Send Beer,” messages are regularly left. Birthday comments include “my birthdays coming up . hope you can make it” and “I turn 21 on Wednesday . I plan on hanging out with you most of the day”.

For many, turning 21 is considered a rite of passage, but Hernandez was unable to fully celebrate that day. The 2005 Streetsboro High School graduate perished on Sept. 7, 2007 — his birthday. His 21st birthday.

According to a Sept. 8, 2007 news release from the Department of Defense, an explosive went off near Hernandez’s vehicle in Mosul, Iraq, killing him and two other soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Regiment.

John Hernandez, Jason’s father, remembered his son’s humorous nature.

“He had a normal childhood. He was a very funny kid. He liked to goof with everybody,” John said, his voice trailing off as he spoke of his oldest son.

John recalled how humanistic Jason was and explained a childhood incident to demonstrate his friendly spirit.

“When he was a kid, he used to disappear for hours at a time. He’d say he was going to play and we weren’t able to find him,” John said. “As it turned out, he had been hanging out with an older lady. He was all right. She treated him as if he were her own.”

Rather than spending his time playing and rough-housing as many young boys do, Hernandez chose to spend some time sharing his company with the lonely.

“That’s just how kind he was,” John said.

John talked about how the day had been all about his son, but with unpleasant resonance. On Friday, John received the investigative report that gave the painful details of Jason’s last moments.

“There wasn’t much left of him,” John said.

Commemorating him in print, John said, would be a welcome pleasantry.

“Maybe this will be the positive ending we need for this day.”

Contact public affairs reporter D.J. Petty at [email protected].