LITTLETON — Jeremy Regnier is loved, by his family and those who knew him, and by those who came from afar to honor his memory.
On Tuesday at Glenwood Cemetery, two dozen members of the Tribute To Fallen Soldiers Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride gathered to meet his family and pay tribute to Regnier, of Littleton, an Army specialist who was killed in action in the Iraq War on Oct. 13, 2004, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his patrol in Baghdad.
He was 22.
Regnier will be one of 75 fallen soldiers in 18 states honored during the month-long run that began in Oregon and will conclude at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in two weeks.
It is the group’s first visit to New Hampshire.
The caravan of motorcycles that has already clocked 5,000 miles includes an RV towing a memory flame that will burn for the duration of the journey.
“We lit the memory flame two weeks ago,” Warren Williamson, executive director for the Tribute To Fallen Soldiers Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride, said during the ceremony at Regnier’s grave. “It will burn for 28 consecutive days.”
The 50-minute tribute, at times solemn and emotional, included a plaque and photograph of Regnier given to his family.
Attending were Regnier’s father, Kevin Regnier; his sister, Amanda Simino; his nephew, Ryan; and stepmother, Audrey.
“The memorial represents the life and sacrifice of our fallen soldiers, including Jeremy,” said Williamson. “We are honored you invited us to honor your son, our hero. That’s what we do, to make sure your family knows he’s not forgotten.”
In bestowing a memorial plaque of distinguished service, Williamson said, “Kevin, your fallen hero will always be remembered … in remembrance of his everlasting call to bravery, honor, and sacrifice in the name of country and duty. We as everyday Americans will always be grateful for your fallen hero’s dedication to country and family.”
Jeremy Regnier joined the Army National Guard in 2000 before joining the active Army, with the goal to better himself and to be a helicopter mechanic.
Kevin Regnier said for many years the nation’s servicemen and women were not always honored the way they should have been.
“I’d like to thank you guys for doing this,” he said, with emotion.
Kevin Regnier, an Army veteran who served in Grenada in the 1980s, spoke of his son’s ambition to make the Army a career and to serve as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic at Ft. Campbell, where Kevin himself had served.
Simino, the mother of 10-year-old Ryan and 13-year-old Jeremy, also expressed gratitude for the tribute to her brother.
“I was 17, pretty young to lose my brother,” she said, tearing up. “It does hurt, every day, but people like you and my kids make it a little easier because it keeps his memory alive.”
The American flag that was signed by the family will go to Arlington National Cemetery, where a bell will be rung in salute to Regnier and his name read, and where the memorial flame will be extinguished after this year’s 75 fallen soldiers are honored in the same fashion.
At the tribute at the Littleton Cemetery, Kevin, Amanda, and Ryan each rang a bell.
The 2021 memorial motorcycle torch run began on July 10 and concludes on Aug. 8.
The cross-country tribute began 12 years ago.
“At the end of this ride, we will have honored just over 900,” said Williamson.
Regnier served in the 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 1st Calvary Division.
Before arriving in Littleton, the group honored Army Specialist Alan Burgess, 24, of Landaff, who served in the 2nd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery Brigade, New Hampshire Army National Guard and was killed in Mosul, Iraq, on Oct. 15, 2004.
The Fallen Soldiers Memorial Torch Motorcycle Ride partners with American Legions, VFWs, and Elks Lodges across the country.
Riders spent Tuesday night at the Littleton Elks Lodge.
“We are going to be putting on a dinner for them and they will spend the night there and they will get up in the morning and we’ll give them breakfast and then they’ll be off to Bangor, Maine,” said Roy Hazlett, manager of the Elks Lodge.