Dawid Pietrek – Private First Class, United States Marine Corps

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

June 16, 2008

DoD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of four Marines who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sergeant Michael Toussiant-Hyle Washington, 20, of Tacoma, Washington
Lance Corporal Layton Bradly Crass, 22, of Richmond, Indiana
Private First Class Dawid Pietrek, 24, of Bensenville, Illinois
Private First Class Michael Robert Patton, 19, of Fenton, Missouri

All four Marines died June 14, 2008, while supporting combat operations in Farah Province, Afghanistan. They were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, California.

18 June 2008:

Dawid Pietrek was a Polish immigrant who went to war for the United States to help fulfill his dream of becoming a citizen and police officer.

He died for a country that was not his own but, according to those who knew him, did so with pride and honor.

The 24-year-old Bensenville, Illinois, man was killed Saturday along with three fellow Marines in a roadside bomb attack in southwestern Afghanistan in Farah Province. The rifleman went overseas only months earlier after entering the service in June 2007 and completing his basic training in California.

He was part of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He is survived by his parents and a young sister, who live in his hometown of Police, in northwestern Poland.

dawid-pietrek-photo-01 dawid-pietrek-usmc-photo-01

“I loved him so much. He was like my son,” said Janina Filleborn, who hired Pietrek about four years ago when he came to the United States to work as a home caregiver for her company, Family Care Agency in Chicago.

“This is a terrible shock for me. Dawid was the best. He was smart and kind and worked so hard.”

She said Pietrek came to the United States on a green card when he was about 21. In July 2005, he moved in with Bill and Joanne Rohn and their three children in Elmhurst, Illinois. The young man took care of Joanne's elderly father until he died in February 2006 at 88.

Pietrek's uncle also stayed with the couple a short time while the young man returned for two months in late 2005 to Poland to finish a medical class. The relative e-mailed the Rohns Sunday with the tragic news.

“He was always very respectful and good with my father,” Joanne Rohn said. “He always called us Mr. and Mrs. It took months for me to get him to call us by our first names.”

Added Bill Rohn: “He was kind of shy at first when he got here, and then he opened up and became part of our family.”

The couple said Pietrek dreamed of a military career, a college education and becoming a police officer. He also wanted to become a citizen, which they said likely spurred his decision to enlist.

Many immigrants join the military as a way to speed up naturalization. More than 35,000 resident alien servicemen and women have been naturalized since September 11, 2001, according to the federal government's citizenship Web site.

Joanne Rohn said she is putting together mementos of Pietrek's time with their family to send to his mother “to give her some sense that it was worth something.”

They said Pietrek worked for another family afterward, also in Elmhurst, and eventually rented an apartment with his uncle for a short time in Bensenville. The last time the Rohns said they saw Pietrek was about last Christmas when he stopped by in full uniform while on leave after completing basic training.

“He was not scared,” Joanne Rohn said. “He was real happy with what he was doing and was self-assured.”

NOTE: PFC Pietrek was laid to rest with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 1 July 2008.

Immigrant Killed in Afghanistan Granted Posthumous Citizenship
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dawid Pietrek, a Polish immigrant, couldn't vote, run for public office or obtain a U.S. passport. But he signed up to serve a country that wasn't yet his, and last month he gave his life for that country.

Private First Class Pietrek, 24, of Bensenville, Illinois, was one of four Marines killed by a roadside bomb June 14, 2008, in Afghanistan's Farah province. Yesterday, more than 90 mourners gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to celebrate Pietrek's life and honor his sacrifice. He was the 489th member of the military killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to be buried at Arlington.

Pietrek's grave was surrounded by a half-dozen wreaths and floral arrangements and a pair of flags, one American and the other a Marine Corps flag. Mourners dressed in dark suits and dresses stood in contrast to Marines in crisp white hats lined up at the rear of the group.

In an e-mail to family, friends and the Daily Herald of Illinois, Pietrek's mother, Dorota, asked that her son's sacrifice be remembered.

“Thank you for keeping him in your hearts and your minds,” she wrote in Polish, according to the Daily Herald.

Pietrek came to the United States three years ago on a green card, hoping to attend college and become a police officer, according to the Herald. He lived with two families in Elmhurst, outside of Chicago, as a trained medical caregiver for elderly family members.

Marine Sergeant Dmitry Novak said the Marines, along with other agencies and groups, helped Pietrek's family arrange travel and burial plans.

Novak sent an e-mail to a Polish announcement list imploring members of the community to attend the burial. “It would mean more to the family than can ever be expressed in words,” he wrote. Seven of Pietrek's family members traveled to the United States for the burial, six from Poland and one from Iceland.

“They were very, very moved,” Novak said after the service. “They were very thankful that so many people actually cared and came out to show their respect and support. It was important for us to show that level of respect to the family and make sure they remember this forever.”

Pietrek's mother wanted two things, Novak said. She wanted him to be buried at Arlington and be granted citizenship. Shortly before the funeral service began, the latter came true, as an official from the Department of Homeland Security presented her with her son's certificate of posthumous citizenship.

Pietrek joined the Marine Corps in June 2007, enlisting in Bensenville. This was the rifleman's first deployment, said First Lieutenant Curtis Williamson, spokesman for the 1st Marine Division. In just over a year, Pietrek had received numerous awards, including the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

Also killed with Pietrek were Sergeant Michael Toussiant-Hyle Washington, 20, of Tacoma, Washington; Lance Corporal Layton Bradly Crass, 22, of Richmond, Indiana; and Private First Class Michael Robert Patton, 19, of Fenton, Missouri. The four Marines were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Twentynine Palms, California.

In a note sent to his mother and sister in Police, Poland, after arriving in Afghanistan, Pietrek talked about what he was accomplishing.

“We are helping and protecting these people and providing them with schooling and medicine,” he said in the note, excerpts of which were printed in the Herald. “If something should happen to me remember — this was my decision. We're defending people here and fighting terrorists.”

My name is Michal PIETREK and PFC Dawid PIETREK was my nephew.

I am police officer from POLAND (Lieutenant). I am with the police since 1994. I served 3 times in Kosovo Province (Balkans) as a member of Polish Special Police Unit (2004, 2005, 2006) within United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo. Since 25. Nov 2007 I serve as a Police Advisor-Trainer in Georgia (Caucasus) within United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia.

It was very sad to me I couldn't attend the Memorial Service of Dawid at Arlington National Cemetery. And it is still very sad that (because of some emotional issues) his mother Dorota Pietrek never mentioned about the rest of Dawids family and our influence to Dawids career and plans to become a police officer. She never mentioned about me (police officer), about the stepfather of Dawid (my brother, retired police officer), step-grandfather of Dawid (retired army Colonel) and his step-grandmother (retired military hospital nurse). That was the point that Dawid was really close to the military service and police job and he dreamed to become police officer like me and his stepfather. He grown up with the strong respect to the uniform, with all important values like honor, proud and courage.

With regards,
Michal PIETREK, 9 July 2008
Lt. Michal PIETREK
Police Crime Adviser
EUPM Bosnia/Hercegovina
Tuzla Regional Office



Family members are shown to their seats at the Arlington National Cemetery service for Marine Pfc. Dawid Pietrek.
From left, his fiancee, Magdalena Bartoszewicz, his sister, Ewelina Pietrek, and his mother, Dorota Pietrek, all of Poland


An American flag is folded in honor of Marine Pfc. Dawid Pietrek, 24, during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.


Flag Day 2009


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 01/23/1984
  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/14/2008

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