Sergey Huber was a runner, but not in a track star sense.
He ran away from Dietski Dome Two, the Russian orphanage he grew up in, repeatedly. He ran, sometimes for weeks, from the school he was supposed to attend. Sometimes he ran with his brother, Basha. Sometimes he ran alone. But run he did. All the time.
The now-22-year-old Marine Lance Corporal recalled in a recent interview that after awhile, he began to realize he didn’t have anywhere to go. And he just stopped running.
Sometime later, he was suddenly told he was going to America. There was a family. They were coming for him.
“When I’m with them, I belong,” he later told a Russian judge in charge of the adoption.
Huber, now an automatic weapons gunner stationed in Afghanistan, moved to Wall. He was about 10 years old. He watched the "Toy Story" movies, rode bicycles and skateboards, just like any other American kid.
“I fell in love with America,’’ said Huber, interviewed from Forward Operating Base Whitehouse. “It opened me up to a lot.”
Huber attended , and later, , and , where he graduated in 2009. Huber was a member of the squad, and .
He befriended a boy named Jim Roche when Roche was about 15. They were fast friends. Soon enough, they’d be inseparable.
“You couldn’t find one without the other,’’ said Stanley H. Baxter, senior chief of Wall High’s NJROTC program, which both Huber and Roche attended. “He (Huber) and Jimmy were best buds all through high school.’’
Good thing, too. He would soon come to need that bond.
Huber’s adoptive parents had divorced a couple of years after he moved to Wall. He didn’t see his father much after that. And later, through family strain and a minor brush with the law, Huber found himself homeless.
He slept in his car, which he parked behind QuickChek on Belmar Boulevard.
He showered at a local gym, and struggled to keep up in school. But he was sinking fast.
“When I found out, we went down there and got him,’’ said Roche, also a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in Afghanistan. “My parents were real big with him staying with us, so it really wasn’t a big deal.’’
Huber moved in with his best friend’s family in North Wall. He stayed all through high school. It was home. Still is, he says.
“I call (Roche’s) dad my dad and his mom, my mom,’’ Huber said.
The two graduated from high school in 2009. They enlisted in the Marines together, and went through boot camp together. And through some stroke of kismet, the pair who had become inseparable in high school were deployed to the same base in Afghanistan.
Roche, a platoon leader at the same base where Huber is stationed, said he was at a loss to explain how that happened.
“It just worked out that way, I don’t know,’’ Roche, 20, said. “It’s definitely great having him pretty close, though.’’
Huber, a young man who had been without stable family for a good chunk of his life, says the same.
“If you’re having a bad day, it’s just nice to know that your brother is just two tents over,’’ he said. “It’s a good feeling.’’