Jimmy Regan went from his Long Island roots to Duke as a determined athlete and student.."Just a terrific personality. Always a smile on his face. His teammates just loved to be around him," his coach, Mike Pressler, said over the phone Monday. "He was the kind of kid that every coach in America would be proud to call his own. I can't imagine a better teammate or a better friend.".By the spring of 2002, Regan was a senior and close to graduating with a degree in economics. He was on the all-Atlantic Coast Conference academic team as a midfielder. In the conference championship game, against No. 1 Virginia, he scored four goals and the Blue Devils won 14-13. Pressler still remembers how the media flocked around him afterward. How happy Regan was. The star of the game. The hero.."It was just his day in the sun," Pressler said. "I'm sure it was something he never forgot.".Regan had a scholarship to go to law school after Duke. Also an offer to work at a financial company. "But he felt like he had a higher calling," Pressler said..Regan joined the Army Rangers. Later, he figured, he'd come back to his life. One day, he would coach a lacrosse team, and help kids find the happiness he had that spring day against Virginia. So he left Duke behind, just as the class of 2006 -- when the world caved in the Blue Devils lacrosse team -- was entering..Somewhere in Iraq last week, Sgt. James John Regan was killed in action. No other details..He had served double tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, returning to harm's way again and again and again. He had been awarded a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, other medals. He was 26 years old.
American flags lined an exclusive Manhasset, L.I., street for at least a mile and a half yesterday in honor of a hometown Army Ranger who became the third graduate of his high school to die in Iraq.
Sgt. James Regan, 26, died Friday when a roadside bomb hit the Stryker tactical vehicle he was riding in while on combat patrol in the town of Baqubah, said military spokesman Bruce Hill.
Fiercely competitive and laser-like in his intensity, Regan had rejected a career in law or finance in favor of the Army.
"If I don't do this, who will?" Regan told his fiancée, medical student Mary McHugh, of his decision to enlist.
"He was blessed with talents and intelligence. To be of service to his country ... he wanted to do this more than anything," Regan's family said in a statement.Profoundly affected by the 9/11 attacks that killed a dozen neighbors, Regan turned down a job at financial-services firm UBS and put off a scholarship to Southern Methodist University Law School to join the Army.
He turned down Officers Training School, saying it would slow his ability to join the Rangers. There, he became highly decorated in his four tours - two in Iraq and two in Afghanistan - earning a purple heart and bronze star, among others.
He planned to marry McHugh after completing his service next February and to teach..Regan is survived by his parents, three sisters and his fiancée. He will be buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are pending.