May 16 2018

Marines Reunited: Regional Manager Jim Bernier & Security Officer Steven Ireland

Pictured: Jim Bernier (lower left), Steven Ireland (back), and fellow Marine Nick Boccabello (right)

When Connecticut Regional Manager Jim Bernier left the Marines in 1995, he never thought he would reconnect with his Team Leader from the 1991 Gulf War, Marine Sergeant Steven Ireland.

Jim enlisted in the Marines immediately after his high school graduation in 1989. “I wanted to serve in the Marines since I was a kid,” Jim said. He was sent to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he first met Steve.

For Steve, joining the Marines was a matter of pride. He enlisted in July 1982 and served for nine years. “I thought it was one of the most elite groups and I wanted to be a part of that,” Steve explained. Steve remembers really getting to know Jim in late January 1991, in the midst of the Gulf War.

While on their mission, the group came across a hidden tunnel system. Upon entering, they found a cache of weapons. They ended up taking a dozen POWs. “It was scary,” Jim recalled. “Everyone was nervous, including Steve—but he didn’t show it because it was his job to help remind us not to be nervous.”

Regional Manager Jim Bernier (left) and Security Officer Steven Ireland (right) recently reunited

Shortly after the Gulf War ended, Steve took a job at an industrial facility. He later spent 20 years as a corrections officer. He then took a position as a security officer at a security company in Connecticut. Last year, Summit took over the site where Steve worked, and he joined the Summit Team. Steve said, “I can’t stress how important every service man’s job was to the mission, whether it was driving a truck or being a rifleman. It was all about teamwork. That is the same today at Summit.”

Jim remained in the Marines for a few more years before leaving. He went on to become a Police Officer for the City of Hartford, CT. After 20 years of service, he retired as a Captain. Jim then went on to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC), where he developed their security department. After four years, he left to join Summit.

One month ago, Steve and Jim reconnected. “Someone said they had a guy named Steve Ireland staffed at one of the Connecticut locations I manage,” Jim said, “and I asked, ‘Was he a Corrections Officer before?’ When they said yes, I knew it was him.”

Upon seeing each other again after so long, Steve said he felt shocked. “Time flies by,” he said. Jim added, “It’s almost like we were never apart. I’m happy to see him and I’m glad we’re both healthy and here. I always looked up to him—he was the boss. I still have that respect for him, and I always will. If I had to do it all over again, I definitely would.”

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