Vice Admiral Diego E. Hernandez, is a retired United States Navy officer, who was the first Hispanic to be named Vice Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
Named Diego Hernandez Sanfeliz, was born in 1930 and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He graduated high school and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology with a Navy ROTC scholarship. He earned a degree in Physics and was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy upon graduating in 1955. He then was designated a Naval Aviator on August 1956 after he underwent flight training.
He served two tours in Vietnam in carrier-based fighter squadrons at sea. Captain Diego E. Hernandez relieved outgoing Captain Myers on June 27, 1980 and took command of the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy is one of two non-nuclear aircraft carriers still on active duty with the United States Navy. On August 29, 1981, Captain Hernandez was relieved of command of the USS John F. Kennedy by Captain D. Bruce Cargill.
In 1987, Hernandez was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Puerto Rican Coalition and in 1988, he was named the distinguished graduate of his class by Illinois Institute of Technology and was presented with the institutions Professional Achievement Award. Vice Admiral Hernandez retired from the Navy in 1991, after serving for 36 years. During which he received numerous decorations and medals: Silver Star; Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross; Purple Heart; Air Medal and many others.
Residing in Florida, Diego E. Hernandez serves as a management consultant for private and public companies. In 1997, he was named to the board of directors of the Taylor Energy Company LLC and he is a member of the Veterans Administration Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans. He is also a member of the Companions of the Naval Order, the oldest exclusively Naval, American society.