MIAMI — Family members say retired Vice Admiral Diego “Duke” Hernandez, once the highest-ranking Hispanic officer in the U.S. Navy, has died. He was 83.

A statement Sunday on behalf of Hernandez’s widow, Sherry Hernandez, says Hernandez died Friday after a long illness at his Miami Lakes home.

It says Hernandez was the top-ranking Hispanic on active duty for several years in the 1980s and served as Navy ambassador to many Latin American militaries and institutions. His military awards included the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Hernandez commanded the U.S. Third Fleet in the Pacific and held senior posts at the U.S. Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, both in Colorado. Hernandez also led 147 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

Funeral services will be July 15.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.