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World War II Veteran in Kern River Valley Won't Quit

Fernando Hernandez served in the US Navy during World War II and has stayed active and remains sharp as a tack at 97 years old.
Posted at 6:23 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 21:23:42-04

LAKE ISABELLA CALIF. (KERO) — One of the last World War II veterans in the Kern River Valley has lived through history and even though he’s getting older, he keeps on rolling.

  • Fernando Hernandez has lived in the Kern River Valley since 19
  • Hernandez was born on July 28 1926 and joined the US Navy when he was just 17 years old.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

“My name is Fernando Hernandez, I was born July 28 1926. I joined the Navy in 1943 at the age of 17.”

Hernandez was just 13 years old when WWII started, but by the end, he was a part of it.

“A few days after the Japanese surrendered, we took the army to Tokyo bay, they were the first ones to occupy Japan.”

He said his service in the Navy mainly consisted of transporting replacement troops to shores near battlegrounds.

“Soon after we left boot camp they sent us to Oceanside to take us to amphibious training,” Hernandez told me, “We took people off the shore that were injured, to make sure that the landing troops were able to get in and out of the boats.”

A position that took him around the world. Now, he mainly stays in the KRV - his home since 1974.

“Spend most of my time at the bowling alley now.”

AT 97 years old, Hernandez, or ‘Fernie’ as many residents fondly call him, bowled an 181 the first game I saw him play.

He’s been active his whole life, which he has primarily spent in California.

“Born in the East…. East Los Angeles. *laughs*”

His love for water sports would bring him to Lake Isabella and he built the house he currently lives in with his wife.

“I got tired of bringing my boat up the old canyon road, so I bought property up here to keep my boat up here.”

He’s been around the world, and has seen it drastically change.

“We were sent to French Indo-China, when we arrived there, General Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese army was there. We took them aboard and we transported them from French Indo-China to Formosa. French Indo-China is now called Vietnam and Formosa is now Taiwan.

Fernie inspires others around him, with his kind presence and refusal to slow down.

“Do you feel 97?” I asked.

“No, I’ve trouble getting up in the morning, but everything’s normal.”

Not bad for a guy who can bowl twice his age.

In addition to rolling in this fast lane he also makes it to most of the honor flight breakfasts at the VFW.

Fernie still has a lot of life in him, and he doesn’t just wait around killing time; he makes sure he enjoys it.


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