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Fallen DuPage Marine to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery

U.S. Marine Dawid Pietrek, who gave his life for a country that was not yet his own, will be buried with military honors alongside other American heroes.

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By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald StaffContact writer
Published: 6/26/2008

The Polish immigrant with DuPage County ties will be laid to rest July 1 in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Instead of bringing his remains home to Poland, his mother chose to have her only son buried in the country for which he died.

"I thank you all for thinking of him," Dorota Pietrek wrote in Polish in a recent e-mail to family and friends, in which she included the Daily Herald. "This was Dawid's choice."

Her 24-year-old son was killed June 14 with three other Marines when their Humvee was blown up by a roadside bomb in the worst single attack this year on U.S. or coalition forces in Afghanistan. A fifth Marine was seriously wounded.

Dawid Pietrek came to the United States when he was about 21 on a green card with dreams of going to college and becoming a police officer. A trained medical caregiver, he lived at different times with two Elmhurst families while helping with their elderly family members.

He enlisted on June 4, 2007, with the hope of expediting his citizenship.

After his death, Marines stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, notified his family. Eight members, including his mother and younger sister, who live in Police, Poland, are due to arrive Monday in the U.S. for the services.

Marine Sgt. Dmitry Novak said officials provided passports, visas, hotel, transportation and other needs to assist the family. He also reached out to various groups requesting presence of the Polish community at the funeral.

"It would mean more to the family than can ever be expressed in words," he said.

Early Tuesday, after a traditional Catholic funeral chapel service, six fellow Marines will carry Dawid Pietrek's flag-draped casket to his final resting place in the cemetery. The service will include a three-volley rifle salute. A bugler will play taps. Afterward, the Marines will fold the U.S. flag and present it to his mother and offer these words:

"On behalf of the president of the United States and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a token of the honorable and faithful service of your loved one."

The 8:30 a.m. funeral is open to the public. Anyone interested in attending should e-mail Novak at dmitry.novak@usmc.mil to ensure entry through the front gates of the cemetery.