Stephani Dwyer, the wife of the late Suffolk police officer Brian...

Stephani Dwyer, the wife of the late Suffolk police officer Brian Dwyer, and their children, Gabrielle, Danielle, Grace and Michael, next to the SCPD marine vessel that was dedicated in his honor on Friday. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

As they passed by two poster boards Friday morning filled with photos of police officers Matthew Wargas and Brian Dwyer on the job, guests to the Suffolk County Police Department's Marine Bureau paused to take in the smiling faces of the two men.

“He truly loved going to work every day,” said Wargas' wife, Gina Wargas, as her speech broke into tears.

More than 100 officers, friends and family, including small children, gathered at a ceremony in Great River to honor Wargas and Dwyer, who worked for the department until they no longer could due to battles with cancer.

Wargas died on Aug. 12, 2016, at the age of 38 from glioblastoma after 14 years of service, and Dwyer died on Dec. 12, 2018, at the age of 50 from peritoneal cancer after 26 years with the department.

Both officers had received awards during their careers, including Suffolk's "Cop of the Year." On Friday, the marine bureau dedicated two marine vessels, the Marine Juliet and the Marine Kilo, to the former officers.

Wargas began his career in law enforcement with the department's First Precinct, working there for 8 years before transferring to the marine bureau for the summers of 2007 to 2009. He earned a full-time spot in the command in 2010.

“When he was permanently transferred, Matt felt like he won the lottery," said Gina Wargas, who attended the event with their three daughters.

Wargas’ best friend from high school, Dany Levy, who grew up with him in New Hyde Park, remembered him as a teenager with long hair who loved heavy metal. Pearl Jam was his favorite band.

“He was hysterical,” said Levy, 45. “Heart of gold.”

Gina Wargas poses with daughters Riley, 12, Chloe 9, and...

Gina Wargas poses with daughters Riley, 12, Chloe 9, and Keira 13, from left, aboard the vessel dedicated to Officer Matthew Wargas. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Chris Wargas, one of Matthew's two brothers, said he loved the ocean as an adult, and his job let him enjoy it. He also said many people didn't know that his late brother was a surfer.

“He just loved life,” said Chris Wargas. “He was a very easygoing person.”

Police Commissioner Robert Waring spoke about both officers' personalities and dedication to the job.

“Matt had a calm, collected demeanor, and Brian did not,” said Waring, sending a chuckle through the otherwise somber crowd.

Anyone who spoke about Dwyer emphasized his humor, with some attendees sporting shirts with his name on the front and the popular 80s adjective “mint” on the back. To Dwyer, everything was “mint,” said his close friend Megan Stringer.

His wife, Stephani Dwyer, who is a former police officer, listed the ways her husband showed up for his children, including making up dances at his daughter Danielle’s Sweet 16 and volunteering for every one of his son Luke’s field trips.

Dwyer worked in the marine bureau for 15 years before he transferred due to his worsening illness.

Stephani Dwyer recounted the day of Brian’s long surgery in December 2016. The family arrived alone at 5 a.m. As Stephani sat in the waiting room, members of the SCPD and Marine Bureau showed up, some with coffee, doughnuts and hero sandwiches.

“It actually became a party of sorts,” she said. “Brian wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

An outpouring of community support continued throughout Dwyer’s two-year battle, she said. That persists for the families of both men after their passing.

“They’re a brotherhood tighter than anything I can understand,” Levy said.

Stephani Dwyer added, “Being a police officer, you have a whole other kind of family, and you don’t realize the power of that family until they show up without question in a time of need."

After the dedication, Wargas’ family, including his daughters — Riley, 12, Chloe, 9, and Keira, 13 —   climbed aboard the Juliet, waving and giggling as they sailed away.

The Dwyer family, including his children — Gabrielle, Danielle, Grace and Michael — followed on the Kilo, smiling through their remaining tears.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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