9/11 Memorial at Parris Island

BRAVEST ON TWO FRONTS: This is Stephanie Donohue’s design for ‘Bench of Heroes,’ a memorial to honor 17 city firefighters who were also Marines and died during the World Trade Center rescue attempts. Supported by the U.S. Marine Corps and the two city firefighter unions, it is being helmed by the FDNY Marine Corps Association, with $65,000 of the estimated $90,000 cost already raised.

Boosters of a permanent memorial to honor 17 city firefighters who were also Marines and died in the World Trade Center rescue attempts have raised two thirds of the money needed to build the monument at the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina.

“We need between $25,000 and $30,000 more,” said Frank Ancona, a retired Firefighter and former U.S. Marine. “We have about $65,000 and need about $90,000.”

Approval From the Top

He continued, “We went right up the chain of command with this. The monument has been approved by Parris Island’s Commanding General, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Secretary of the Navy, who also happens to be a Marine.”

The memorial, entitled “The Bench of Heroes” was designed by Stephanie Donohue, and will be composed of two eight-foot pieces of granite resting on a World Trade Center I-beam. It will bear an etched silhouette of the lower Manhattan skyline with the Twin Towers along with the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful).

The project will include the names and cameo portraits of all 17 USMC FDNY members who died on 9/11.

The FDNY Marine Corps Association has been working on the project for two and half years, according to Mr. Ancona, who is the nonprofit’s sergeant at arms.

The project was an outgrowth of a memorial the group erected at the United States Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virigina.

“When the Commanding General of Parris Island saw that, he petitioned us to do something for Parris Island,” Mr. Ancona said.

He remarked, “At 19 years old, my life was going nowhere. In the Marines, we learned to respect each other and to never leave each other behind.”

'Key Decision in My Life'

He added that joining the Corps “was the key decision in my life that I followed up on by joining the Fire Department.”

“The families of FDNY 9/11 Marines, especially those whose sons were young, unmarried, and whose remains have never been recovered, are extremely grateful to know that their Marines will not be forgotten by history thanks to this wonderful monument in South Carolina,” said Sally Regenhard, who lost her 28-year-old son Christian Regenhard on 9/11. “The USMC taught Christian so much about excellence, leadership and mastery.”

“Of course, the UFA supports this,” said Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “We remember all 343, and these 17 members who had already served their country in the Marines. And the terrorist attack inspired other young Americans to also become Marines, and many of them have gone on to join the FDNY.”

“I think the men and women that volunteer and join our military are special people,” said James Lemonda, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. “But those that are not only willing to risk their lives as soldiers so we can enjoy our freedom, but then go on to become Firefighters and put their lives at risk for the people of New York City, they are extraordinary.”

Names of Honorees

The 17 FDNY/USMC members being memorialized are: Deputy Chief Raymond Downey, Special Operations Command; Battalion Chief Joseph Grezlak, Battalion 48; Capt. Patrick “Paddy” Brown, Ladder 3; Capt. Michael Esposito, Squad 1; FF Calixto Anaya, Engine 4; FF John Chipura, Engine 219; FF Ruben Correa, Engine 74; FF Matthew Garvey, Squad 1; FF Gary Geidel, Rescue 1; FF Ronald Henderson, Engine 279; FF William Krukowski, Ladder 21; FF Manuel Mojica, Squad 18; FF Christian Regenhard, Ladder 131; FF Greg Sikorsky, Squad 41; FF Kevin Smith, Haz-Mat 1; FF Sean Tallon, Ladder 10, and FF Allan Tarasiewicz, Rescue 5.

Checks can be made payable to the FDNY Marine Corps Association, and mailed to P.O. Box 1014, Smithtown, NY 11787. FDNY MCA is an IRS tax-exempt nonprofit fraternal organization.

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