Saturday, May 21, 2005
Two newly acquainted Brooklyn-born sailors made a bombshell discovery two days before they were deployed together to Iraq — they're brothers. The pair had never met until they discovered by freak chance at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina that they share the same father but different moms.
Brothers Sean Hurley, left, and Albert Hendrick Jr.The brothers — who have similar looks and personalities — are now roommates and working with a surgical company in a military hospital in Iraq, while making up for more than 20 lost years. Albert Hendrick Jr., 23, who was raised with his dad in Brooklyn, never even knew of the existence of big brother Sean Hurley, 26. Then, as the pair played cards, Hurley heard someone call his new buddy — whom he had known for only a week — by his first name for the first time and the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place. It was the same name as his long-lost dad Albert Hendrick Sr. — who he knew had been a bus driver in Brooklyn before his mom, Laverne Hurley, whisked him away from the mainland to St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands, when he was 4. "I said, 'That's your first name — Albert?' He's like, 'Yeah,' " said Hurley, speaking from Iraq last night. "I asked him, 'Are you a junior?' and he said, 'Yeah.' " Hurley pulled aside Hendrick Jr. after the game and asked him, "Did your dad drive buses for New York City? He said, 'Yeah.' He was looking at me, like, 'What are you getting at?' Then Hurley dropped the bombshell: "Damn, dog, we might be brothers!" Hendrick Jr. responded: "Get the f- - - out of here!" That night, Hendrick Jr. called his stunned dad at home in North Carolina. "I was teary-eyed, I tell you. I was so excited," said Hendrick Sr. "It was really something. I haven't seen Sean in over 20 years. I believe in fate, and I can tell you — it's just meant to be. "My wife knew about Sean, but I don't think [Albert] knew. His mother and me were just dating. She left when he was 4, and I was very, very upset." Now Hendrick Sr. prays both his sons will return safely from Iraq — and he will get to see Sean again. "Sean looks more like me than Albert. Albert says every time he looks at Sean, he sees me," Hendrick Sr. said. "I spoke to Sean in Iraq. He calls me Dad. I told him I loved him and I missed him and to take care while he was over there," he said. "A couple of times, hospitals have been blown up, so they are in danger. It worries me a lot, but all I can do is pray to the Lord that Sean comes home safely and they'll both be all right." Hurley is an operating-room surgical-technician corpsman, and Hendrick Jr. is a sick-call and surgical-shock-trauma corpsman. Hendrick Jr. is still stunned by the chance meeting. "It was real crazy, to tell you the truth. It was unbelievable. I think it was fate. It was meant to be that we'd find each other," he said. "In many ways, we're like the same person. We're both so outgoing, and we both like to be the center of attention. We're both basically comedians. "We pretty much do everything together. We joke around together. We've got a real strong relationship right now. It's like we've been brothers the whole time." Hurley said he had suspicions the first time he saw his brother and instantly saw the resemblance — and more so when he learned he was from New York. Now, he's just thrilled to finally have a sibling. "I was so excited to have a brother — that was the biggest thing — because I was raised an only child," Hurley said. "I was always asking my mom for a brother or sister, and she said no. "And I didn't know anything about my dad — I had no pictures of him, nothing." Hendrick Jr., his wife, Theresa, and their two children spent time with Hurley, his wife, Tonnyann, and baby before the brothers were deployed in February. Theresa Hendrick runs a home day-care service at Lejeune — and one of the kids she looks after now is Jazmin, a niece she never knew she had. SEA THE RESEMBLANCE: Sailors Albert Hendrick Jr. (left) and Sean Hurley together at a military hospital in Iraq. They learned of their family bond while playing cards.