COLORADO SPRINGS. Vic Fernandez, a long time parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Colorado Springs, has been named 2018 Military Veteran of the Year by the El Paso County Veterans Services.
Fernandez was honored in a ceremony on Sept. 27 at the Veteran’s Monument in Bear Creek Regional Park. County Commissioner Darryl Glenn presented the award.
For two decades, Fernandez has served as chairman of the Pikes Peak National Veterans Cemetery Committee, which worked to build a final resting place for veterans in the region. Pikes Peak National Cemetery, located on Drennan Road in southeast Colorado Springs, will receive its first burials this October.
Fernandez helped found the Knights of Columbus chapter at St. Francis Parish more than 20 years ago and served as its Grand Master. He’s been an active chapter member since that time.
The Trinidad, Colorado, native served in the U.S. Army for 30 years, from 1959 to 1989. He entered West Point at the age of 17, graduated four years later in the class of 1959, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in Artillery. During his career, he served two tours in Panama, two in Vietnam and two in Germany. In addition to various stateside postings, he is a graduate of the Army War College and the Command and General Staff College.
His military awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, a Meritorious Unit Citation earned by the battery under his command in Vietnam and various Vietnam Campaign and Service Awards..
Since retiring from the Army, Vic has remained active in Colorado Springs Veterans affairs, serving as President of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America and founding member of the board of The Home Front Cares.
“No single person receives this honor alone,” Fernandez said. “This is a great honor, I’m really proud, but it’s not all about me. It’s all about the veterans. It’s a real family.”
“Vic has had a real passion for bringing this cemetery to the Pikes Peak area,” said Paul LaGrange, the director of the Pikes Peak National Cemetery. “He’s been working 20 years for this. A national cemetery is sacred ground. With all the veterans in this area, it’s fitting for them to be able to serve here, retire here and, with these hallowed grounds, they can be interred here. It’ll be a place where the family members can come and visit. This is going to be a part of our community — a place to remember the sacrifices these veterans have made for our country.”
(Robert Condron is a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Colorado Springs.)