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LOUIS HERNANDEZ(1921 - 2013)

Louis Robert Hernandez May 12, 1921-December 12, 2013 Louis R. Hernandez passed away December 12, 2013 at his home in Tucson, AZ, with his 3 children by his side. He was 92 years old. Louis was born on May 12, 1921 in Santa Fe, New Mexico to the late Harriet and Fred V. Hernandez. He grew up in El Paso, Texas, spending summers in Santa Fe with his paternal Grandparents in their home on West San Francisco Street, where the Hilton now stands. Louis graduated from El Paso High School in 1940 and joined the Army Air Corp after the United States entered WWII in December 1941. Trained as a B17 pilot at airfields in Arizona, Louis was shipped off to Deopham Green Airfield in England to become a member of the 452nd Bomb Group. Louis piloted his B17G, "BTO in the ETO", on twenty-plus missions during the war including D-Day over the beaches of Normandy. On June 21, 1944, flying in the first shuttle mission between bases in the UK and USSR, Louis and his crew were shot down over eastern Poland while headed for Poltava, Ukraine after hitting their target. Initially hidden in a haystack by a local sympathetic farmer, Louis and six of his crew members evaded German capture for 36 days with the help of the Polish underground. Eventually, the Airmen were transferred to the Russians and flown back to England. Louis served the remaining wartime in El Paso training B29 pilots. Louis received a BA in Business and an MA in Education from Texas Western College (now UTEP/University of Texas at El Paso). He began his career in El Paso education as a teacher at Cooley Elementary School and became Principal of Hart Elementary School in 1956. He was next named the first principal of MacArthur Junior High where he spent 21 years, a job he deemed "the best in the world" because of the kids and teachers. After retiring in 1986, Louis kept busy in the backyard woodworking shop he built with his son. His grandchildren had their beginnings in the crib and high chair he made in his shop. When he wasn't working with his hands or socializing while eating out, Louis volunteered at the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa, NM. In 2001, he moved to and made his home in Tucson, AZ, where he spent many years as a docent at the 390th Memorial Museum in the Pima Air and Space Museum. Louis took up Pilates at the age of 85. Louis is survived by his three children Clay and Cole of Tucson, AZ and Teri of Boulder, CO, as well as six grandchildren, Nicholas and Caroline (Clay); Hannah, Jake, and Ava (Cole); and McEwen Louis (Teri). All proudly sharing the Hernandez family name. As his children spent his last days with him at his home, they marveled at how their father had continued to educate them their entire lives, teaching them how to parent, how to live, how to age and how to die. He was an amazing man who made sacrifices for his country and his family. Louis always said "Family comes first". Because he lived this way, his children knew each and every day of their lives that he loved them. The family is deeply appreciative of his caregivers, especially Theresa Hill and Casa de la Luz Hospice. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the 390th Memorial Museum Foundation (http://www.390th.org/support-the-museum/donate/) or the El Paso Independent School District (https://www.give2schools.org/cat.asp?id=5D6F220821B44D898D30D765DBE0DD55). A service will be held in Louis' honor at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish,5150 N. Valley View Road, Tucson, AZ on Monday December 30 at 9:30 a.m., with a reception following.


Published in El Paso Times from Dec. 21 to Dec. 28, 2013
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