The Call to Serve, a Generation Apart

  • February 28, 2023

Growing up in Queens, Patrick “Paddy” McGee was not sure what he wanted to do when he grew up. His community of neighbors, friends, and family members was full of people who worked in public service – giving him a glimpse into life as a civil servant in New York City. It wasn’t until he was 12 years old that Paddy saw Emergency Service police officers assisting with a traffic incident in his neighborhood that he immediately knew he wanted that job. At 19, he took the test to join the NYPD. 

Paddy joined the ranks of the NYPD in 1984 and frequently interacted with the department's elite Emergency Service Unit. After a rigorous training period, Paddy accomplished his childhood goal of joining the ranks of these elite officers he'd once seen assisting in his neighborhood. He was eventually assigned to Emergency Service Squad 1, where he would be working on the evening of September 10, 2001, hours before the attack that would change the NYPD and the world forever.

Paddy and Pat McGee at the Last Column

Paddy and Pat McGee at the Last Column

Upon witnessing the start of the attack on the World Trade Center from his home, Paddy rushed to his headquarters. He and his fellow officers reached the site after the North Tower collapsed. Later that evening Paddy, along with fellow ESU police officer Scott Strauss and civilian paramedic Chuck Sereika, began the dangerous process of rescuing trapped Port Authority Police Officer Will Jimeno and Sargent John McLoughlin. As they worked, Paddy started referring to John as “Irish Eyes,” in reference to their shared Celtic roots, to keep him conscious as they continued their rescue efforts.

Paddy served as a member of the NYPD ESU until his retirement, earning the NYPD’s Medal of Honor alongside Strauss for their efforts to rescue Jimeno and McLoughlin. As Paddy remembers his service to the city, he also remains inspired by those he worked alongside, many of whom he can remember by name. Years later, Paddy’s career would in turn inspire a member of the next generation, his son Patrick McGee Jr. Known to most as “Pat,” he joined the Port Authority Police Department in January 2023.

Pat, who was only two years old on that day in 2001, grew up attending ceremonies honoring his father's work on 9/11 and being told by many that his father was a hero. As he got older, he began to understand what had occurred on 9/11 and how important it was to honor and remember the sacrifices of first responders. As time moved forward, Pat decided, after finishing college, that he wanted to pursue a career in public service and joined the Port Authority Police Department.

As a new officer of the PAPD, Pat McGee wears Shield number 1117, the same number as now retired Officer Will Jimeno, whom his father helped rescue 22 years earlier.

While Paddy is proud of his son for the path he has chosen, he is particularly proud that his son found his own path to a life as a first responder, just as he did all those years ago in a neighborhood in Queens.

This September, participants around the world can see Paddy and Pat McGee share their stories, in their own words, as a part of the 2023 Anniversary Digital Learning Experience program. Register today.

By Meghan Kolbusch, Education Specialist

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