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Green Card Leads To Lifetime Of Service
by U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Burkle
December 20, 2022

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Peter Egan celebrated 20 years of service in the Pennsylvania National Guard this year ... but his story of military service started long before that.

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Peter Egan, with the Protection Section of the 28th Infantry Division at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on December 16, 2022. Egan has had an amazing career with service in the Irish Military, French Foreign Legion, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Pennsylvania National Guard. (U.S. Army photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Burkle)
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Peter Egan, with the Protection Section of the 28th Infantry Division at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on December 16, 2022. Egan has had an amazing career with service in the Irish Military, French Foreign Legion, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Pennsylvania National Guard. (U.S. Army photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Burkle)

Born in Ireland, Egan said, “It’s pretty much a rule that you have to be named after a Saint.”

He served in the Irish military for one year before joining the French Foreign Legion in 1988. Egan couldn’t say much about what he did, but he did say that he served across North Africa with the legion for five years and then returned home to Ireland.

In 1994, Egan got the chance to leave Ireland and come to the United States. In his soft Irish lilt, Egan described it like this, “I won the lottery. I didn’t get a check, but I got a green card.”

So, at age 26, with almost no money in his pockets, Peter Joseph Egan left Ireland for the United States. A chance encounter at the U.S. Embassy would set the course for his new life.

“I saw the Marines at the embassy when I was getting my green card, in their dress uniforms, and I said, ‘Excuse me, how do I get to do your job when I get to the United States?’ and they said call 1-800-Marines. So, I did and I was in the U.S. Marine Corps within 30 days of arriving.”

Egan went on to serve eight years as an Active-Duty Marine. During his time in the Marine Corps, he traveled around the Mediterranean visiting places like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and the Black Sea.

Egan’s next chapter began with the end of his time in the Marine Corps. Starting in 1999, he was posted to Pittsburgh, Pa., on recruiting duty for his last three years. While there, he met his wife, Pamela.

“She’s a do-gooder and volunteered with Toys for Tots,” he said. “And of course, for recruiters – that’s part of our job too.”

After leaving the Marine Corps, Egan worked for a time as a police officer for the Federal Reserve, and now works for the Allegheny County Police. He joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 2002 and almost immediately deployed with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, to Ramadi, Iraq.

“The luck of the Irish is a real thing, and I believe it has stayed with me. Things always seemed to hit in front of, behind, or fly over me,” he said about his deployment. He is now serving with the 876th Engineer Battalion, 2nd IBCT, in Johnstown, Pa.

When asked why, after all these years, he decided to volunteer for this deployment with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 28th ID, Egan responded, “I like to volunteer for things. They tell you in the Army ‘never volunteer for anything.’ But I think of Isaiah 6:8: ‘Here am I, send me.’”

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