Stephen R. Gregg: The Hero Behind Bayonne Park

Statue of Stephen R. Gregg. Photo Credit: Bayonne Buzz

We all love the big and beautiful “Bayonne Park” with its waterfront views, thoughtful landscaping, and expanding athletic fields, but do you know the story behind the man for who the park, officially named Stephen R. Gregg Park, is named for?

Stephen R. Gregg was actually born Stephen Grzegocky to polish immigrant parents in The Bronx in 1914. Six months later, Gregg’s family relocated to Bayonne, where he spent his formative years, eventually enlisting into the army and fighting against the Axis powers in World War II. During his time in battle, he would ultimately be awarded the most prestigious military award available – The Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor Heroics

Gregg was awarded the nation’s most prestigious military award for his heroics in France in August 1944. In the heat of battle in France, Gregg’s unit was struck by German grenades, causing casualties and leaving seven men wounded. As medics attempted to reach the injured men, they were met with enemy fire, forcing them to retreat. In that moment, Gregg described it this way in a 2000 NY Times interview.

“We were close by, and you could hear the men that were hit calling for medics,” he told. “I said, ‘God! I’ve got to do something here.’

The records note that he armed himself with a light machine gun and, firing from the hip, charged uphill, providing cover while the medical aidman evacuated the injured soldiers. Despite the intense enemy fire, he valiantly stood his ground until he exhausted his ammunition, at which point he was surrounded by four German soldiers, who demanded his surrender.

However, an opportune distraction provided by friendly riflemen allowed Gregg to take back the offensive. Seizing a machine pistol from one of the Germans, he bravely fought his way out, enabling his platoon to continue their advance and ultimately achieve their objective that day.

Gregg recalled in the same NY Times interview, “I kept firing and firing. I was just thinking, ‘I’ve got to get as many as I can before they get me.’ I never thought I’d come out of this thing alive, to be frank with you. The Lord was with me.”

Statue of Stephen R. Gregg. Photo Credit: Bayonne Buzz

Return to Bayonne

Upon his return from the war, Gregg was hailed as a hero in Hudson County, with a parade in his honor drawing 50,000 spectators. He then embarked on a career with the Hudson County Sheriff’s office, serving as the chief of court officers until his retirement in 1995. It was in that same year that Bayonne Park was dedicated in his honor.

Gregg passed away in 2005.

However, his legacy was further immortalized in 2021 with the dedication of a bronze statue near the park’s 43rd Street entrance, depicting Gregg on that brave day, with the machine gun in hand, looking to protect his fellow soldier. Today his memory lives on not just in the park that bears his name but in the hearts and minds of all those who value bravery, sacrifice, and unwavering dedication to the greater good.

Statue of Stephen R. Gregg. Photo Credit: Bayonne Buzz