COPRPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local Marine veteran is now being recognized for what he did on active duty, and those accomplishments have little to do with combat in the traditional sense.
While Elias Hernandez was on active duty during Operation Desert Storm his focus wasn't on Bahgdad. Instead, it was on Barcelona, site of the 1992 Summer Olympics.
You see, Hernandez is a boxing coach, and he's earned the Corps' highest boxing honor.
“You can be successful in anything, you have to have determination,” said Hernandez. “You have to have dedication, the discipline, but above all, you need to have the desire.”
For Hernandez, that desire led him to the Marine Corps Boxing Hall of Fame.
“I haven't been involved in boxing, now it's my turn to shine again,” said Hernandez.
As a Marine stationed in Okinawa in. The 1980s, Hernandez helped start a boxing program in a supply room. In a short time, his fighters not only dominated the pacific, but the entire armed forces.
“We hadn't won the Armed Forces Boxing Championship since 1974, and that's when (former World Heavyweight Champion, Leon) Spinks was on the team,” said Hernandez. “It had been a long span, and finally in 1990 it happened.”
That championship came at Lackland Air Force Base. Hernandez says he came home to make sure his mother was there to see it.
Hernandez spent three years coaching the marine corps boxing team.
not only was he a teacher, he was a student, learning from his fellow coaches like Roosevelt Sanders.
“You never have everything in the bag, there's always more you can do.,” said Hernandez. “Whether it be teaching balance, or whatever it might be, you can always learn from another coach.”
Hernandez still can't believe he's being inducted into the hall of fame.
He believes the coaches who helped him along the way,. Like former Corpus Christi Police Officer Tim Brown and his former father-in-law, Jose Nunes Plata, deserve the credit.
“I’m not getting indicted because of me,” said Hernandez. “These are the unsung heroes, I'm just a product of their efforts.”
The ceremony is in early August at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. To raise money for the trip, Hernandez pulls no punches, selling commemorative t-shirts, designed by Daniel Maldonado of the T-Shirt Gallery, a local business owned by David Ramos.
“Lots of people do fundraisers, like BBQ, but that's a one-time thing,” said Hernandez. “This is the gift that keeps on giving.”
The t-shirts are $30 and feature a special commemorative design. To purchase one, call Hernandez at (361) 336-9973.