Army’s ‘Iron Man:’ Wounded twice, decorated twice
MANILA, Philippines—He is an Iron Man of sorts.
When he took a bullet in his right leg during a fierce encounter with the New People’s Army rebels on May 4, First Lieutenant Ari Ben Hernaez drew recognition for his gallantry in action on Monday.
Hernaez was honored after battling the insurgents with his men at Sitio (sub-village) Diat Palo, Barangay (village) Kingkiing, Pantukan, Compostela Valley Province.
His award may be a welcome respite, but he could already be used to receiving the Wounded Personnel Medal as it was his second decoration in two months.
On March 12, Hernaez was wounded in the left leg in a clash with the NPA rebels in Barangay Panoraon, Maco, Compostela Valley.
A member of Philippine Military Academy Class 2009, Hernaez was the platoon leader of the Philippine Army contingent that Major General Ariel Bernardo honored at Panacan Station Hospital, a statement from the Philippine Army said.
“He was just lucky,” Captain Ernest Carolina, spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division, said.
Bernardo also awarded Privates First Class Jovert Torres, Renier Osotio, Albert Edem, Haris Winsly Villacentio, and Wyli Tobia with the Wounded Personnel Medal.
“People are looking at a situation where the peace in the area is improving,” Bernardo said during the ceremony. “As we answer to our responsibility to the people, casualties on our side would be normal occurrence.”
Hernaez, who is also a member of the Philippine Army Scout Rangers, said that the area where the encounter took place is crawling with communist rebels. He said guerrillas allegedly extort money from operators of small mining and owners of local businesses.
“Back to work, sir,” Hernaez said, ready to get back on track and probably avoid a third straight Wounded Personnel Medal.
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