City officials have confirmed that Derek Hernandez, 20, a 2008 Edinburg High School graduate and a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan has been killed.
Officials who have been in contact with the Hernandez's family say the soldier died as a result of a military vehicle accident last week. Lawmakers and city officials have since made statements expressing their sympathies for Hernandez and his family.
"History reflects that the City of Edinburg, recently dubbed “Hometown of Heroes” by Texas Governor Rick Perry, is full of many patriotic men always first in line to serve. Unfortunately, as in the case of Derek Hernandez, some brave young men pay a high price for our freedom," said mayor Richard Garcia on behalf of himself and City Council members.
"Derek and his family are in our thoughts and prayers. May they find the strength to cope with this overwhelming tragedy in knowing that Derek will never be forgotten," Garcia said.
Rep. Aaron Peña said the community is slowly coming to terms with the tragic news that the Edinburg native, Lance Cpl. Derek Hernandez has been killed in action. Hernandez the 31st soldier from the Rio Grande Valley and 5th from Edinburg who has been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
"I am saddened that we have lost another young man to war," Peña said. "My condolences and prayers go out to his family. Derek Hernandez will not be forgotten. He will be woven into the tapestry of selfless service to country that has made this city a 'Hometown of Heroes'."
The soldier is the fifth from Edinburg since combat began in 2003. Those included Marine Pfc Dustin Micheal Sekula, 18, who was killed in April 2004 by hostile fire in Anbar province, Iraq.; Sgt. Christopher Ramirez 34, who was killed April 2004 during combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq; Mark Anthony Zapata, 27, who was killed Aug. 15 by hostile fire in Najaf, Iraq; and Benito Ramirez, 21 of Edinburg, Texas; killed May 21 in 2006 in Fallujah, Iraq.
The Edinburg Review will have more information as it becomes available.