Alhambra (Martinez, Calif.)
Athletic Director Pat Ertola always knew he had the right man as his
head football coach. He always knew Alan Hern to be a strong leader, a
great father and man of courage and integrity.
Monday night those notions were all cemented.
called his friend and football coach to find out the status of Aaron,
Hern’s 11-year son, who was in the ICU with non life-threatening injuries
suffered in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings.
someone to be rattled and scattered in a situation like that. Who
wouldn’t be?” Ertola said. “But Alan was so cool and calm and collected.
He had things handled. It’s just sort of what I’ve come to know about
him. Even though he described what transpired as something out of a war
Alan might know something about that. He was a lieutenant in the
Navy and served in active duty from 1993-98 and was deployed to the
Persian Gulf. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
for superior performance.
But nothing could have
possibly prepared him for the range of events and emotions — celebrating
the triumphant accomplishment of the completion of his wife’s first Boston Marathon to
picking up his son's bloodied body from the smoke and chaos of a war zone.
Aaron was wounded in the left thigh and hip by shrapnel
detonated from the first bomb near the finish line while waiting for his
mother Katherine Hern, 40, to complete the race. She was 200 yards from
Aaron stood anxiously with a camera in hand near
the crowded street while Alan and younger sister Abigail, along with two
other family friends, were a few body lengths apart when the explosion
Alan found his son laying on the street and medics
immediately applied a tourniquet to Aaron’s injured thigh. None of the
other family or friends were injured significantly.
More than 170 people
were injured during the attacks Monday, which killed three people.
things considered, they were very fortunate,” Ertola said. “Still, he
and his son should never have to see some of the things they saw.
Especially Aaron. He should never have to be a part of something like
The aftermath was just as challenging. Alan and Katherine
weren’t allowed in the ambulance and the hospital they were directed to
had no signs of Aaron.
Once they arrived at the correct place —
Boston Children’s Hospital — the facility was on lockdown and again,
the family had to wait.
Eventually, they got in and after
successful surgery to remove the shrapnel, Aaron was deemed in stable
Katherine described Aaron’s wounds on Facebook as “mostly
superficial except one. One on his upper left thigh needs more surgery
and just not sure yet the extent of the damage.”
Alan told Ertola they expect to stay in Boston another 7-10 days for additional medical care.
can say comfortably that in a crisis situation on our football field
there is nobody I’d want more on our sideline than Alan,” Ertola said.
“I think he demonstrated a real world scenario those exact same
News about the Herns' family ordeal traveled quickly
around Martinez and throughout the football fraternity in the Diablo
Foothill Athletic League. Acalanes (Lafayette)
coach Mike Ivankovich called
Hern "A stud. He's legit. An honest, stand-up guy. He's disciplined, a
good person and a great dad. I'm so sorry he and his family had to
endure something like this, but thankful they got through it. Our
thoughts and prayers are with them all."
Longtime Campolindo (Moraga)
coach Kevin Macy said Hern is the ultimate family man. "Every time I go over to drop off film or to talk to him about something, I'd see his kids. You could tell they love to be around their dad and football. He's just a classy man through and through. I felt sick when I heard the news, but so happy everyone is safe."
Hern is a local boy story. He was a was a three-sport star at
Alhambra and quarterback and MVP of the 1988 league championship team.
He was also a two-year team captain in both basketball and baseball.
After playing football and serving at Navy, he made his way back to Alhambra, where he was
hand-picked to replace legendary coach Dave Silveira, who led the
Bulldogs to more than 200 wins in 28 seasons and three North Coast Section
Silveira picked Hern himself.
was my pick also, but when Dave chose him it was certainly a done
deal," Ertola said. "Alan is simply a leader. ... a born leader.
Basically any task set before him he'll get it done. And it will be done
Said Ivankovich: "Replacing a legend like Silveira couldn't have been easy. But Alan had the kind of backbone to handle it."
In three seasons with Hern at the helm, the Bulldogs are 13-18. Football results seemed superfluous in wake of Monday's events.
"Our only thoughts and wishes right now is to get Alan and his family back home safe and sound," Ertola said. E-mail Mitch Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MitchMashMax.