Rio Grande community preparing final goodbye for fallen sailor

WESLACO, Texas (KVEO) - Preparations are underway for the public viewing and funeral of Weslaco native who died during the U.S.S. Fitzgerald incident nearly two weeks ago.

Navy Gunner's Mate 2nd Class, Noe Hernandez, was one of seven sailors who were killed when the U.S.S. Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship off the coast of Japan.

The remains of the 26-year-old were brought back to the valley last week.

He received a hero's welcome from family, friends, local leaders, and dozens of veterans.

They escorted him from McAllen-Miller International Airport, to his childhood home in Weslaco, and then to Del Angel Funeral Home.

Edinburg city council member, Richard Molina, was one of the local leaders who came out to show support for Hernandez and his family.

"This is very important for us to come together as a region. You can see all the support that's here. It's very overwhelming that we're here for one of our loved ones and one of our fellow seamen that we lost in the line of duty," said Molina.

Those that knew Hernandez, like Bianca Garcia, say they're here for his family, just like Noe was there for everyone else.

"He was like the light you would find when you were in dark times. He was there for everybody and anybody no matter what they need. No matter what it was. He would be the one to go to," said Garcia.

A funeral service for Hernandez will be held this Thursday at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Mercedes. It will be followed by the burial at Weslaco city cemetery.

Family and friends are hoping that many can come give Hernandez a last goodbye.

"Weslaco has his family's back in whatever they need. All the stuff I see that everyone is helping them with, it makes me happy, because in one way or another he touched a lot of lives. I would hope to see more people come when the time comes to let him rest," said Garcia.

A public viewing for Hernandez will be held this Wednesday. His family is finalizing details on a location.

Hernandez is survived by his wife and son.


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