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Freeport celebrates Veterans Day

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The Village of Freeport hosted its annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Freeport Memorial Library, where local veterans, elected officials and residents gathered to pay special tribute to the late Sgt. Robert Hendriks, a U.S. Marine who was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019 at age 25, and whose mother lives in Freeport.

“We’re here to pay homage to a member of our Freeport family who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Ed Dukich, first vice commander of the Freeport American Legion William Clinton Story Post 342.  

“To his mother, Felicia Biondo-Arculeo, we’ll never forget your son and his sacrifice that he made for his country,” Mayor Robert Kennedy said. 

Hendriks, a member of the 2nd Battalion of the 25th Marine Regiment, was patrolling near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan with two fellow Marines when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. All three died. 

Hendriks was buried with full military honors at Long Island’s Calverton National Cemetery. He was the son of Biondo-Arculeo and Erik Hendriks Jr., and the brother of fellow Marine Sgt. Joseph Hendriks. Biondo-Arculeo works in the village treasurer’s department.   

Staff Sgt. David Fuertes, one of Hendriks’s commanding officers, thanked the village for the tribute, describing Hendriks as an ideal Marine. 

“He was dependable, reliable — he was the epitome of the Marine concept,” Fuertes said. 

He added that Hendriks displayed his reliable nature even outside the Marines, as was evident when he dropped everything to help Fuertes install a window at his house in the middle of the day. Fuertes said he shares that story often with his friends at the bar, who named a drink after Hendriks. 

Maj. Murphy Bright, another of Hendriks’s commanding officers, shared a similar story about the late Marine. Bright said that he stumbled into Hendriks at a bar in London when they were given two weeks to travel around Europe. Bright was there with his wife, and they joined Hendriks and his friends for a few drinks.  

“Robbie noticed that one of his fellow soldiers was having one too many drinks, so he stopped for the night and helped take him to his motel,” Bright recalled as he teared up. “He was someone you could depend on. Yes, I was his boss, but I considered him a friend and a brother.” 

During the ceremony, State Assemblywomen Judy Griffin and Taylor Darling and Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé presented Hendriks’s family with citations to honor his service.