Sergeant Christopher R. Hrbek Post Office Building
will officially be dedicated this Saturday in Westwood, honoring the hometown hero killed by an explosive device in Afghanistan only months after he rescued a fellow Marine from a similar fate.
Westwood Avenue will be closed from the corner of the post office at Fairview Avenue to Kinderkamack Road for an hour before and after the event. Chairs will be set up in the street for the official ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m., borough officials said.
Hrbek, 25, was scheduled to return home in May after three tours of duty in Iraq, first in 2005, and a hitch in Afghanistan that began only in November.
He also was about to be awarded a Bronze Star for saving his sergeant major — who, like him, stepped on a crude explosive device while under fire just before Christmas. The government awarded it posthumously.
Born on June 6, 1984, Hrbek was graduated from Westwood High School in 2002. A longtime volunteer fireman from a family of firefighters, he joined the Marines in January 2003.
Hrbek so dedicated his life to helping and protecting others that he also joked and kidded with the best of them, earning the nickname “Dirty Squirrel.”
“I am the backbone of the Marine Corps,” he wrote after being promoted to sergeant. “I serve as a vital link between my commander and all enlisted Marines. I will never forget who I am or what I represent.
“I am now, more than ever, committed to excellence in all that I do, so that I can set the proper example for all other Marines.
“Above all, I will be truthful in all that I say or do. My integrity shall be impeccable as my appearance….Though today I instruct and supervise in peace, tomorrow I may lead in war.”
Hrbek was an artillery cannoneer assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he made several friends and became a fan of the Carolina Panthers NFL team.
President Obama signed a bill renaming the post office — sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, both D-N.J. — in June.
The stepson of Westwood fire captain JayMee Hodges, Hrbek was a longtime member of the borough’s volunteer fire department. His two brothers work in the New York City Fire Department, where Hrbek planned to join them after his service in the Marines ended.
PREVIOUS STORIES :
***Westwood hero buried in Arlington
***Homecoming fit for a hero
***Hero’s remains returned
***Hero’s welcome was already planned at home when tragic news came
***Bergen Marine killed in Afghanistan
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.