National Tragedy Hits Home

Marine Corporal Robert A Hendriks of Locust Valley (Photo courtesy of the Hendriks family)

Tragedy struck both the country and the local community last week when three Marine reservists, including 25-year-old Locust Valley native Corporal Robert A Hendriks, were killed in Afghanistan when their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb on Monday, April 8.

“We are saddened to learn that Marine Corporal Robert Hendriks, a 2012 graduate of Locust Valley High School, was one of three American service members killed in a roadside car bomb attack in Afghanistan on Monday,” said Patrick DiClemente, principal of Locust Valley High School. “Our staff members remember his kindness, passion for service and commitment to friends, family and our country. Following graduation, he immediately enlisted in the Marines and sacrificed everything for others.”

Hendriks was an infantry machine gun specialist and was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment based in Garden City. Last October, Hendriks was deployed to Afghanistan and according to his family, was scheduled to come home this spring. Hendriks had been awarded the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

Also killed in the attack were 43-year-old New York City firefighter Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, PA.

The Marines were part of the American contingent remaining in Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency strikes and train government troops. At the time of the attack, the three men were conducting combat missions in the Parwan province.

Hendriks’ body was accompanied home by his brother, Joseph, also a Marine and a 2013 graduate of Locust Valley High School.

By last Wednesday, the news of Hendriks’ death had reached the community and flags were lowered to half-staff at Locust Valley High School and at the war monument on Forest Avenue.

“As a school community, we understand that we are all able to be here today, to live our lives, and to have opportunities and experiences each day due to the sacrifices that have been made by Marine Corporal Robert Hendriks and other Americans serving in our armed forces,” said DiClemente. “We join in thoughts and sympathy for the Hendriks family and friends, as well as the families and friends of all fallen heroes of military service.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also ordered flags at New York government buildings lowered in honor of Hendriks and Slutman until their burial. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran ordered the same for the county’s flags.

“My deepest condolences to the family of Corporal Robert Hendriks. I cannot imagine the pain they must feel,” said Congressman Tom Suozzi. “Corporal Robert Hendriks is an American hero and has made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. May God bless Robert Hendriks, and grant peace and strength to his family.”

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