News Column

Korean War exhibit unveiled at Airborne & Special Operations Museum

June 27, 2014

By Chick Jacobs, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

June 27--When Rodolfo "Rudy" Hernandez had seen himself face-to-face for the first time, he noticed two things immediately.

He wasn't bloody enough, and his mouth was shut.

Hernandez died last year, but the tale of his Korean War heroism at Hill 420 was officially unveiled Friday morning at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum before the Medal of Honor recipient's family and friends.

The diorama is the centerpiece of a museum exhibit recounting the role of paratroopers in the Korean War. It captures the moment Hernandez launched himself out of a bunker toward enemy troops in what he figured was a one-way trip.

"The way I was hurt, I figured no doctor would repair me," Hernandez said in a video that accompanies the exhibit. "So I thought I might as well go out all the way.

"I yelled, 'Here I come!' and came out fighting."

Hernandez's actions saved his overwhelmed unit, which rallied to retake the bloody battleground and save a critically injured Hernandez in the process.

On Friday, museum and military officials paid tribute both to Hernandez and his fellow paratroopers.

"They played a pivotal role in the conflict," said Col. Jeffrey Sanborn, the Fort Bragg garrison commander. "This is a great opportunity to commemorate their actions."

Jim Bartlinski, the museum director, noted the exhibit expanded the focus on the Korean War. Last year, a new exhibit highlighted the role of special operations forces.

"Sometimes the Korean War is called the 'Forgotten War,'" Bartlinski said. "But not here."

He noted that Hernandez was key in helping keep the exhibit as accurate as possible.

"We were lucky to have Rudy here in our backyard," Bartlinski said. "His input was crucial."

The exhibit originally showed Hernandez charging to bayonet a North Korean soldier with some superficial wounds to his scalp and arm.

His daughter, Martha Recluzado, noted that her dad wanted things to be bloodier.

"He wanted accuracy, and it was a bloody fight," she said. "I think he would be very happy with the way things came out."

Hernandez also objected to the original exhibit's grim, tight-lipped presence.

"He said he lost some teeth and he came out yelling," Bartlinski said. "So we had the modifications made."

The result is haunting. Surviving members of Hernandez's 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Unit -- "The Rakkasans" -- gathered to share memories as Chinese bugles blared in the background amid exploding shells and rifle fire. Flickering flares created a surreal scene of carnage -- "all within a PG framework," Bartlinski noted.

"It's been emotionally exhilarating for all of us at the museum," he said. "We really would have loved for Rudy to be here with us for this day."

Staff writer Chick Jacobs can be reached at 486-3515 or

What: Ceremonies honoring veterans of the Korean War, including the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team and their four Medal of Honor recipients.

When: Today, 10 a.m.

Where: Airborne & Special Operation Museum, 100 Bragg Blvd., in the Yarborough-Bank Theater

Information: 643-2766 or


(c)2014 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Visit The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters