By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian
Mencho Hernandez was born in Goldthwaite, TX on March 18, 1933. He’s the eldest of eight children born to parents of Mexican descent. Originally his name was to be Enemensio but when his father filled out the information for his birth certificate, he put down Mencho. His father, a sheep and goat shearer, and his mother, a “good” housewife, spoke Spanish to the children. It wasn’t until he attended elementary school at age six that he learned the English language.
After high school graduation, Mencho decided he wanted to “get out and do things.” So he joined the Navy on June 5, 1951. He served all his time in the Far East during the Korean Conflict. He most enjoyed his time as a signalman aboard a destroyer staying out for 40 days at a time. He served in the Navy for four years and got out to take care of one of his brothers.
He stayed out of the military for about one year and then decided to join the Air Force. While stationed at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, TX, he met a woman who had originally been a nun. They fell in love, married, and had three children, two girls and one boy.
In the Air Force, Mencho first worked in personnel but then got moved to the fire department. He stayed with the fire department as a staff sergeant while being stationed at locations such as Bentwaters, Portland, and Perrin. He got promoted to a tech sergeant and transferred to Takhli in Thailand for about one year. He finished his twenty-year career at Keesler AFB where he decided to stay with his family. He enjoyed firefighting and remembers a notable point in his career when he rescued Lt. Col. James, who went on to become Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr.
After his retirement, Mencho decided to open a janitorial service where his kids worked with him. He kept the business open for about ten years but when the kids started leaving home he decided to close. He then became the safety engineer for a company in Texas. After leaving this plant, he went back to the Gulf Coast to work for the U. S. Postal Service. He worked at the branch in Orange Grove and then transferred to the Courthouse Branch in Gulfport and eventually retired from working altogether.
Sadly, he lost his wife about eight years ago. Living on the Coast for almost half his life, he kept his home here in Gulfport but decided to move into AFRH-G. Now he has four grandchildren and one great grandchild. He enjoys frequent visits with his family. Luckily his granddaughter, a captain stationed at Keesler Air Force, is also close enough to visit often.
Living at the Home, Mencho enjoys playing dominoes and bingo, singing karaoke, and collecting all types of hats. He has achieved notoriety in the home for his hat collection, which includes cowboy hats, Scotland Yard hats, and sombreros. He thoroughly enjoys his life at AFRH-G and says, “They’ll have to carry me out in a box because I ain’t leaving.”