2016 Grand Marshal: Nelson Vergara

Detective, New York Police Department
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

All three of our Parade Grand Marshals are both 9/11 first responders and post 9/11 military veterans.

Nelson Vergara feels he is blessed to have served as a New York Police Department First Responder on 9/11 and as a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the war in Iraq.

The NYPD lost 23 members on 9/11.

“I am truly blessed, humbled and honored having been afforded the opportunity to serve with one of America’s best and New York City’s finest,” he said.  “I have a chip on both shoulders; one has the Eagle, Globe and Anchor of the Marine Corps and on the other is my Police Department shield,” Vergara echoed other NYPD officers who serve in the Marine Corps.

Det. Vergara was born and raised in Queens and enlisted in the Marine Corps after one year of college in 1995.  During his first enlistment, he served in Bosnia, helping to bring peace to a war-torn country.

Vergara joined the NYPD in 2000.  September 11, 2001, was his day off, but he already was headed to Ground Zero when he was ordered to report to his command, the 33rd Precinct in northern Manhattan.  He was assigned to guard the George Washington Bridge and then Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and then sent to Ground Zero to join the rescue effort.

He spent several months at Ground Zero.

In 2003, he reenlisted in the Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq.  In his second deployment in 2005, he trained Iraqi security forces in Fallujah.  He completed his enlistment as a sergeant.

He survived Fallujah, but almost died after he returned to the NYPD.  Coming home from work on June 24, 2012, Vergara stopped outside his home in The Bronx to investigate a disturbance.  He was caught in a cross-fire and shot in the arm and the leg.  Despite his injuries, Vergara shot one the assailants, who was arrested nearby, and subdued another assailant.

Vergara received the Combat Cross.  He recovered from his injuries and was promoted to detective.  He now serves in the NYPD Intelligence Bureau Executive Protection Unit.

He and his wife, Maria, live in Monroe, NY, with their two daughters.

“Having traveled abroad as a Marine, I realized just how truly great our country is.  I would not hesitate to do it over again – including Boot Camp!” Vergara said.

“When I joined the Marine Corps at the age of 19, I never realized how big this world really is and how strong our nation stands when it faces adversity.  As a New York police officer and as a first responder, I realized the best way to serve the citizens of my city was to re-enlist into the Marine Corps and take the fight to the enemy.”

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Meet our other Grand Marshals
» Stephanie Dawson
» Joseph Duggan, Jr