Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Esau I De la Pena-Hernandez

La Puente, California

May 15, 2009

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army SSG

2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)

Fort Drum, New York

 Died at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when their patrol was attacked by enemy forces using small-arms fire in Chak, Afghanistan.

Fort Drum soldier from California dies in combat

The Associated Press

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — The Army says a Fort Drum soldier from California has died from injuries suffered in a firefight last week in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon identified the soldier Monday as 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Esau Delapena Hernandez of La Puente, Calif.

Delapena Hernandez and Sgt. Charlie Lee III, 23, of Birmingham, Ala., died from their wounds on May 15 at Forward Operating Base Shank and were with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment.

Delapena Hernandez joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and signed up for the Army in April 2006. He had previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife.

The 3rd Brigade was the first Army unit to deploy to the country as part of a surge of troops started by President Bush last fall. 
Soldier never mentioned his honors

The Associated Press

Esau Ivan De La Pena-Hernandez poured his whole heart into his military service, family members said.

He was a fan of military-themed video games and movies and knew the film “Full Metal Jacket” word-for-word. His love for soccer was a close second.

“He used to always call me and ask ‘Are you proud of me?’ ” said his father, Mario De La Pena. “I told him ‘You are my hero.’ ”

De La Pena-Hernandez, 25, of La Puente, Calif., died May 15 after his patrol was attacked in Chak, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y.

The oldest of three children, he was born in Mexico and moved to America with his family when he was 11. Previously a legal resident, he had recently earned his citizenship.

Family members were shocked to discover after his death that he had earned nearly 20 decorations during his service.

“He wasn’t a flashy person,” said sister Denise. “We never knew he had all these medals.”

De La Pena-Hernandez previously deployed to the Philippines in 2002, to Kuwait in 2004, to Iraq from December 2004 to March 2005 and to Afghanistan from September 2006 to May 2007.

He also is survived by his wife. 

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