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James J. Regan

James J. Regan, in his brief life, did not choose the predictable, cushy jobs his background and ability afforded him. Regan, at 26, last week gave his life for his country, a United States Army Ranger killed in Northern Iraq, having already served four tours of duty - two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. A fellow Army Ranger recalled, "James Regan was the guy you want next to you at all times."

Remembering her son's last Christmas home, his mother, Mary Regan, said she could always tell when her son was happy. "He would hop up on the kitchen counter and talk about whatever was on his mind. We knew Jimmy was happy doing whatever it was he was doing with the Rangers. We knew not to ask any questions, but we could tell how proud he was being a Ranger," she said.

James was born on June 27, 1980, the same year his family bought their first home in Manhasset, and he attended Munsey Park Elementary and Manhasset Middle School where he played lacrosse, football and basketball in PAL and CYO sports leagues, as so many Manhasset youth before and after him have done. Regan was influenced by this larger community, and he touched all those whose paths crossed his. Neighbors, in an outpouring of grief for the young soldier and his family, have lined his street, Park Avenue in Manhasset, with an unending procession of American flags from Plandome Road to Port Washington Boulevard.

En route to graduating in 1998 with honors from Chaminade High School, Regan distinguished himself in that same year as: All American Lacrosse Player; All State Scholar, Football; Nassau County Sports Commission Award for Outstanding Academic Achievements, Athletic Achievements, and for Service to his Community.

Neighbors placed American flags along Park Avenue to commemorate the town's fallen soldier.

Duke University recruited Regan, offering him a lacrosse scholarship and as a mid-field lacrosse player, he helped the Duke team reach ACC Championships in 2001 and 2002 and they played in the Final Four in 2002. Intensively competitive and fiercely determined, Regan was considered always the best prepared member on the field. His professors, teachers and commanders would agree that he focused with laser-like intensity to get it right, to be the best. Between championships Regan earned a 3.2 GPA majoring in economics with minors in business and marketing. After graduating from Duke, Regan enjoyed a UBS internship. But he turned down a job offer from UBS, a financial services company, and a scholarship to Southern Methodist University's law school, to join the Army Rangers.

James Regan was raised in a large family in a small town and he carried this sense of family and community with him into every new situation. His classmates and teammates have often remarked how he treated everyone like a member of his family and valued the sense of school community and the close family of the lacrosse team. His family extended to the Army when he enlisted with the sole objective of being good enough to be a Ranger.

James enlisted in February of 2004. He was acutely impacted by the September 11 attacks, having been raised in Manhasset where over 20 individuals who perished had lived, and he turned down an opportunity to attend Officers Training School because, "it would slow down my ability to join the Rangers." Regan wanted to be on the fast track to serve his country; he wanted to be a Ranger-a highly trained and rapidly deployable light infantry force with specialized skills to engage in special operations.

His family and community had instilled in Regan an unwavering commitment to his country and he took this commitment seriously. Once, as they discussed his decision to join the Rangers he asked his fiancée, Mary McHugh, a medical student at Emory University, "If I don't do this who will?" He believed that he was blessed with talents and intelligence to be of service to his country. He wanted to do this more than anything.

Just as he had excelled in high school and college, when Regan tackled Infantry Basic Combat Training he graduated first in his class of 400 earning the "Soldier of the Cycle" distinction in May 2004. Eventually he graduated Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP), Basic Airborne Course and was selected and assigned to 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, GA. Regan also attended elite Ranger School, graduated language training, and was assigned a team leader position. James Regan left for his fourth Tour of Duty to Iraq in January 2007 and was promoted to Sgt./E5 Feb. 1. Regan was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the premier light-infantry unit of the United States Army. Their mission is to plan and conduct special missions in support of U.S. policy and objectives. Regan was on such a mission when his vehicle was struck by an IED while conducting combat operations in northern Iraq, on Feb. 9. Sgt. Regan, a fire team leader, was moving his unit to an objective when he was killed.

James Regan's awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

Regan planned on a March 2008 wedding and getting a master's in education. This seemed a natural, Regan was always reading, and instead of the usual college dorm or Army base toys such as PlayStation, Regan had an enviable library. His favorite gift was a Barnes & Noble gift certificate. With his love of history, his master's in education, and his sports record, he was looking forward to a career in teaching and coaching.

Regan is survived by his parents, James P. and Mary R., three sisters, Maribeth, Colleen and Michaela, his grandfather John Desmond and his fiancée, Mary R. McHugh of Atlanta, GA.

Sergeant E5 James John Regan (Jimmy), 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Charlie Company.

A wake will be held at St. Ignatius Retreat House, 251 Searingtown Road, Manhasset, on Thursday, Feb. 15 from 1 -5 p.m. and 7 - 9 p.m. The funeral Mass will be at St. Mary's Church on Northern Boulevard on Friday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Jim Regan Scholarship, c/o Chaminade Development Office, 340 Jackson Avenue, Mineola, NY 11501 or to: Special Operations Warrior Foundation, P.O. Box 13483, Tampa, FL 33681-3483, www.specialops.org. Donations may be made in the name of Sergeant Jim Regan and mailed in or made online.


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