A new Soldier who led his unit on the rifle range and on the PT field got a special BCT (Basic Combat Training) graduation from his command after suddenly taking ill and being hospitalized.
New Pvt. Angel Hernandez began his basic training journey last November with Company B, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment at Fort Leonard Wood. Almost immediately, he set himself apart from the pack and made it clear he was a high performer. By the time training had concluded, Hernandez had earned not one, but two Army Achievement Medals: One for having the highest marksmanship score in his unit, and another for having the highest ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test) score.
But despite Hernandez’s remarkable effort in training, he wasn’t able to attend his unit’s BCT graduation on February 4th due to suddenly taking ill. After being admitted to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, he was then transferred to University Hospital in Columbia, where he awaits another transfer to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. While the Army has not revealed what illness took Hernandez out of training, they did point out that he had managed to complete all of his graduation requirements prior to taking ill.
Had Hernandez not fallen sick, he would have been able to graduate with his friends and peers in February. With that clearly impossible, the Army chose to do something a little bit different: They held a private graduation ceremony for Hernandez right there in the hospital he’s staying in. The Army even set it up so his family could watch the ceremony virtually.
“He completed all of the graduation requirements; he just wasn’t able to walk across the stage with his peers,” said Capt. Lee Johnson, Bravo Company commander.
“We just decided to seize on the opportunity while he’s here now to graduate him in person and recognize him for his achievements — give him the recognition that he deserves.”
On March 3, just under a month after he would have graduated, Hernandez participated in the private ceremony, which saw Lt. Col. Christopher Scott, Hernandez’ battalion commander, present the young Soldier with both of his Army Achievement Medals and his graduation certificate. Scott emphasized Hernandez’ tenacity during training as he spoke.
“This is really special for all of us to be able to come up here and make sure he knows that he has graduated and is a Soldier in the United States Army,” Scott said.
“He is resilient; he is exactly what the Soldiers of this nation need to be. He’s exactly what the people of this nation deserve.”
Hernandez accepted his command’s praise with a great deal of humility and went on to say that the sort of support he was receiving in the hospital felt as though it was in keeping with how he felt throughout training, thanks to a positive atmosphere throughout BCT.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot during basic training,” he said. “You develop a really close relationship with your battle buddies because you learn to rely on them and they learn to rely on you as well.”
“It feels great to be able to recover … I joined the Army because I want to serve my country.”
Hernandez will be close to home while undergoing treatment at Walter Reed. His family only lives about 30 minutes from the military hospital–But Hernandez isn’t looking to take it easy. He’s already planning on getting back into fighting shape.
“When I come back, I want to come back stronger,” he said.