Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More on Duke Lacrosse

America has read a lot about the Duke Lacrosse program over the last year or so, but not much attention has been paid to the story of this alumnus of the program:

Fallen LI soldier a 'friend to everyone'
Newsday Staff Writer

With an undergraduate degree from Duke, a top LSAT score and a laser-like focus, Jimmy Regan would have succeeded in whatever he wanted to do in life.

Instead of taking a scholarship to law school or a financial services job, Regan followed a calling to the military, where he became an Army Ranger and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and two in Iraq, family members said.

Regan, 26, was killed in Iraq last week, though no other details of his death have been released, said Jayne Evans, a family spokeswoman. With mourners filling the Regan home in Manhasset yesterday, friends and family fought back tears in describing the young man -- known to family and friends as "Jimmy" or "Reges" -- each of them called their best friend.

After graduating from Duke, Regan turned down a job offer from UBS, a financial services company, and a scholarship to Southern Methodist University's law school to enlist in the Army, where he passed on Officer Candidate School to focus on becoming a Ranger.

"He said, 'If I don't do it, then who will do it?'" said Regan's fiancee, Mary McHugh, a medical student at Emory University who, like scores of others at the Park Avenue house yesterday, wore Regan's high school graduation photo clipped to her shirt. "He recognized it as an option and he couldn't not do it."

Army Sgt. James John Regan was born June 27, 1980, in Rockville Centre. He graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, where his lacrosse skills earned him a scholarship to Duke. There, while earning a bachelor's degree in economics, he played midfield on two teams that won conference championships and one that reached the NCAA semifinals.

Regan enlisted in February 2004 and spent three years in the Army, earning a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and several medals marking his service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He went to the Army's language training school and read about the countries he patrolled, but remained humble enough to make his three sisters laugh with a Borat film-character impression or explain the region's centuries-old conflict to his mother, Mary Regan, when he was home for Christmas.

He was "a best friend to everyone he knew," said his youngest sister, Michaela, 16.

Regan's stint in the Army was to end in February 2008, and he and McHugh planned to marry the next month. They were to move to the Chicago area, where her family lives, and he was going to become a social studies teacher and coach lacrosse.

Though Regan died in combat,, his family's support for the Iraq war remains strong. Criticism of it, either in the media or by politicians, serves to undermine the effort, said Regan's father, who is also named James Regan.

"What is written in the papers and what is being politicized out there by our candidates is undermining our service," said James Regan, a senior vice president at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a Manhattan financial services investment bank.

"These gentlemen that are out there are mission-focused," he said of the troops. "They're trying to do the best job they possibly can. There have been mistakes made, why even list them? ... You cannot put men in the field of battle and then change your mind and go out as a whip-dog. Let the men do their job."

In addition to his parents and sister, Jimmy Regan is survived by two other sisters, Maribeth, 25, of Manhattan and Colleen, 20, of Manhasset. Funeral arrangements were pending. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

The family has established a scholarship fund in his name. Donations should be sent to the Jim Regan Scholarship, c/o Chaminade Development Office, 340 Jackson Ave., Mineola, N.Y. 11501.

I've highlighted a phrase that sounds a lot like the rationale used by a close and dear relative to explain why he went to Iraq. Fortunately, he came home and is doing well. He too, is a superb role model - worthy of trust and confidence.

Remember stories like these when some Democrat again says - as you can be sure one will - that our volunteer military attracts no one but dead-enders.

We thank Jimmy Regan for his dedicated and selfless service. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones.

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