Virginia Marine running in honor of fallen Bensenville comrade

  • Dawid Pietrek

    Dawid Pietrek

  • An American flag is folded in honor of U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek, during the former Bensenville man's July 1 funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

    An American flag is folded in honor of U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek, during the former Bensenville man's July 1 funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

  • Family members of U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek say goodbye. From left, his fiancee, Magdalena Bartoszewicz; younger sister, Ewelina Pietrek; and mother, Dorota Pietrek, all of Poland.

    Family members of U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek say goodbye. From left, his fiancee, Magdalena Bartoszewicz; younger sister, Ewelina Pietrek; and mother, Dorota Pietrek, all of Poland. Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

  • The gravesite of U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek, 24, formerly of Bensenville, killed June 14 in Afghanistan.

    The gravesite of U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek, 24, formerly of Bensenville, killed June 14 in Afghanistan. Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

  • Dawid Pietrek

    Dawid Pietrek

 
 
Updated 10/23/2008 2:51 PM

In a few short weeks, U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek was supposed to be coming home after his tour overseas ended.

The 24-year-old Polish immigrant enlisted in Bensenville to serve a country that was not yet his own with the hope of gaining citizenship and becoming a police officer.

 

Last summer, he gave his life for his dream and the country that had yet to officially adopt him.

A fellow Marine in Arlington, Va., touched by Pietrek's sacrifice, will run in his honor Sunday during the annual Marine Corps marathon.

The two never met, but Marine Sgt. Dmitry Novak ensured Pietrek was given a true hero's goodbye while planning his July 1 funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Novak, 29, a member of the casualty operations section, became close to the Pietreks while helping them with their travel from Poland to attend the service.

Though Novak has known many fallen Marines, including members of his own unit during his two tours in Iraq, his close ties to Pietrek's family made him the clear choice.

"When I thought of a Marine in whose honor I would run, his name is the first that came to mind," Novak said. "The thing about Dawid is that I actually met and got to know his family on a personal level. They were amazing. My wife and I still keep in touch."

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Pfc. Dawid Pietrek was killed June 14 with three other Marines during a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan. Dorota Pietrek chose to have her only son laid to rest in the U.S. among other American heroes.

He also was granted posthumous citizenship.

Pietrek came to the U.S. at about 21 with dreams of graduating from college and becoming a police officer. A trained medical caregiver, he lived with three different families - including two in Elmhurst - while helping their elderly relatives.

He enlisted June 4, 2007, while renting an apartment in Bensenville. His tour would have ended next month.

Novak, a first-time marathon participant, is running with more than a dozen other members of his section. Though each chose a different Marine to honor, all of them are raising money for the same cause - the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation - which each year gives out millions of dollars to the children of fallen Marines and federal law enforcement officials to help with education, medical and other needs.

For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.active.com/donate/MC-LEF-CS/SgtNovak, or go directly to the foundation's Web site at www.mc-lef.org.

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