At every Mets home game at Citi Field, the team recognizes a veteran for his or her military service. FDNY firefighter and veteran Peter Regan will be honored as “Veteran of the Game” at the Mets’ Sept. 11 game against the Miami Marlins. Regan, who joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1999, served as an infantryman in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom for five years.
Regan, 37, who moved to Malverne from Brooklyn with his wife, Courtney, and four children four years ago, said he was contacted by the FDNY’s press office last month. “I think most veterans try to stay low-key,” he said. “You always ask yourself, ‘Why me? Is there a more [prominent] veteran?’ You don’t want to be the one because there’s thousands of us, but to be considered makes me very appreciative, and it’s a wonderful thing.”
When Regan completed his tours and returned to Brooklyn in 2004, he joined FDNY Ladder 174, Engine 310 in East Flatbush, following in his father’s footsteps. His father, Donald J. Regan, was a firefighter for Rescue 3 in the Bronx who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks. Regan said that he was on the rifle range at Camp Pendleton, Calif., during the attacks, and that the events of that day are still fresh.
“In a way, it’s a good thing to not forget,” he said. “It should be an awakening moment for our country every year.”
Regan said that his father was one of his biggest influences, and that he has learned more about the duties of being a firefighter and husband with every passing year.
“For all these years, I’ve been asked, ‘What has he meant to you?’” he said. “I think that more so now, I think about all of his sacrifices, and that he did whatever he had to do [to] help others. He was a great father who served his community, and he made it his duty to serve everyone around him.”
Regan admitted that going from the Marines to firefighting was a difficult transition. In the military, he said, veterans are part of a large, more regimented team, whereas civilian jobs offer more independence.
“I think for me, personally, the independence is something that I had to learn over again,” he said, adding that the camaraderie he has built with his fellow firefighters has helped.
Having a sense of duty, Regan explained, is something he has long believed in. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that whether you’re serving your country or community, you should do it to the best of your ability,” he said.
Regan said that his family settled on Long Island after outgrowing their apartment in Brooklyn. “I love Brooklyn, but coming out here to Long Island, where I have my own driveway and yard space, has been great for us.”
Courtney, who married Peter seven years ago, said that she and her children will be at Citi Field when he is honored. “He’s a part of history to me, and so is his dad,” she said. “It’s a nice thing to teach our kids about, and we’re very proud of him.”
“It’s a day to recognize and remember,” Regan said, “and if I could bring my small piece to this event, where people see me as a veteran and a family member of someone who was killed in 9/11, I’m just happy to be a part of it.”