Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Mario M. Henandez, 65, a combat pilot in World War II and a veteran of the Berlin airlift, died Monday at his home in Springfield, Va. He had a heart ailment.
Col. Hernandez was stationed in Korea in 1970, when he suffered a heart attack. He was transferred to Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base and retired there later that year. He had lived in Springfield since 1972.
Col. Hernandez was born in Tampa, Fla. A pilot with the Air Transport Command in World War II, he completed more than 150 combat missions in the China-Burma-India Theater and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He left the service after the war to operate his own flying school in Dunedin, Fla.
Col. Hernandez was recalled to active duty in 1948 to serve with the Air Force. He completed more than 100 missions in the Berlin airlift.
In 1953 he was an aircraft commander with the Special Air Missions Squadron at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. A year later he began a three-year tour of duty in Madrid as chief of the liaison division and chief pilot with the Joint United States Military Group. He had a second tour of duty in that some capacity during 1960-64.
Col. Hernandez also commanded a B52 in the Strategic Air Command at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.
His other decorations included the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Joint Service, Air Force and Army Commendation Medals.
He is survived by his wife, Conchita, a son, Mario L., and his father Nestor S., all of Springfield; three other sons, Army Maj. Charles P., of Laurel, Nelson S., of Alexandria, and Army Lt. Robert M., of Colorado Springs, and a grandchild.