The Legacy of Jimmy Regan

The Legacy of Jimmy Regan
Monday 05/26/2014  –  Leslie Gaber, Duke Sports Information

When the Duke men’s lacrosse team takes the field each weekend in the spring, the players’ uniforms bear a subtle yet powerful tribute to one of their own.

On the back of the Blue Devils’ helmets, opposite the American flag, lies a small, black rectangular box with white font bearing the text “JR 10.”

The insignias honor the late Sgt. James John Regan, or “Jimmy” as he was known at Duke. The Long Island native was a midfielder for the Blue Devils from 1999-02 and was killed in action in 2007 while serving in the United States Army’s 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Iraq.

A native of Manhasset, N.Y., Regan was born in 1980 to James and Mary Regan. He graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y., and went on to play lacrosse and study economics at Duke. The midfielder helped guide the Blue Devils to a four-year record of 43-21 with a pair of ACC titles in 2001 and 2002 and four NCAA Tournament appearances. He was named to the 2002 ACC All-Tournament team after scoring a career-high four goals and adding an assist as Duke defeated then top-ranked Virginia, 14-13, in the championship game.

An Academic All-ACC selection, Regan finished his collegiate career with 22 goals and four assists.

“Just a terrific personality. Always a smile on his face. His teammates just loved to be around him,” former Duke coach Mike Pressler told USA Today in 2007. “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.”

Following his graduation from Duke in the spring of 2002, 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. Surprising many of his friends and family members, he chose to enter the U.S. Army Ranger School, emailing his former teammates the explanation “This is what I have to do.”

Regan went on to graduate first in his class in infantry basic combat training. After completing the basic airborne course and Ranger Indoctrination program at Fort Benning in Georgia, he became a member of the 3rd Battalion.

Regan served as a machine gunner, gun team leader and then fire team leader during two deployments each to Afghanistan and Iraq, as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His service in the Army was to end in February of 2008. He and his fiancée, Mary McHugh, had made plans to marry and move to Chicago upon his return to the United States, and he had hopes of becoming a social studies teacher and lacrosse coach.

Regan was killed Feb. 9, 2007 in northern Iraq when an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted his vehicle. He was 26.

Survived by his parents and three sisters, Regan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart, in addition to a number of other decorations earned during his years of service. The Roman Catholic Church in Manhasset was packed beyond capacity for his funeral, including 600 flag-waving students from the local high school and many of the businesses nearby displaying his photo in their windows. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

The nonprofit Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund was founded in Regan’s honor by his family and friends, and today continues to assist wounded and fallen Army Rangers and their families through health and wellness programs and other services. “Through the Lead The Way Fund, his family and friends strive to honor his spirit, his patriotism and the way he lived his life by combining our efforts to give back to his brothers, the U.S. Army Rangers,” reads part of the mission statement.

Annual events such as “A Run Down Hero Highway” and the “Lead The Way Lacrosse Day for Heroes” support these efforts. In the coming months, LTWF has charity fund-raising slots secured for the San Francisco Marathon (July), the Army Ten-Miler at the Pentagon (October) and the New York City Marathon (November). A pair of “Shootout For Soldiers” 24-hour lacrosse games will be held in Baltimore and Long Island this summer. This year’s LTWF gala benefit was scheduled for May 21 at Chelsea Piers in New York, with CBS This Morning co-anchor Charlie Rose (Duke ‘64) as master of ceremonies.

Regan’s father serves as the CEO of the Lead The Way Fund, with the board and advisory committee loaded with many of his son’s former high school and college friends and teammates. First Lady Michelle Obama last month commended the work done by Lead The Way in a speech she gave for Joining Forces, another military support organization she founded with Jill Biden three years ago.

Although several classes of Blue Devils have come and gone since Regan’s death, his legacy continues to live on within the program. A memorial display and his framed No. 10 jersey hang outside the team’s locker room. His initials and number remain on the players’ helmets for every game.

With the return of defenseman Casey Carroll to Duke last year, the reminders of Regan’s service to his country have been even more constant.

Carroll was a first team All-America selection for the Blue Devils as a senior in 2007. He cites Regan’s story as being influential in his decision to also join the United States Army following graduation.

“It was my senior year when Jimmy Regan died,” Carroll says. “That really moved me when Coach (John Danowski) told us about his story. I found that the best way I could honor him and also blaze my own way through life would be to try to follow in his footsteps. I just set my mind to it. Fifth year of eligibility, that went right out the window for me.”

Coming from a family that had ties to military service as well, Carroll enlisted in the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment — the same unit Regan had served in.

After spending 2007-12 in the U.S. Army with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Carroll returned to Durham to pursue an MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. With one year of eligibility remaining due to injury, he was also able to get back on the field for the Blue Devils, joining his teammates in honoring Regan every time they don their helmets. And although Carroll tends to shy away from the spotlight, he is eager to share Regan’s story.

“As far as we saw, he was the toughest guy in the world,” Carroll said. “He’s a guy that we all looked up to, whether guys knew of him personally or just knew of his story. I felt that would be a really great way to honor his memory.”

For more information on the Lead The Way Fund, visit

Memorial Day Tribute

On this Memorial Weekend we honor and remember the brave men and women who gave it all to protect our freedom. And may we NEVER forget that there are brave men and women who continue to stand on the front lines every single day, sacrificing so much, so we can be free. Our thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of them and their families.

Never forget that we are the Land of the Free BECAUSE of the Brave.

God Bless our Troops, God Bless our RANGERS and God Bless America.


Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund Inaugural Gala Thank You

It is hard to even put into words how incredible our Inaugural Gala was last night. From beginning to end it was a perfect evening and exceeded every expectation. And it was all made possible by YOU our unbelievably generous and dedicated supporters.

On behalf of Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund, and of the men and families of the 75th Ranger Regiment, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for helping us LEAD THE WAY!!


CSM (Ret.) Michael Hall

A retired Command Sergeant Major, Mike Hall is the former Senior Enlisted Leader of the U.S. and International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan, the United States Army Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command and the 75th Ranger Regiment , the only soldier to hold all four of those positions, with over 20 years of service with the Rangers. CSM Hall retired from the Army with 34 years of service, and is currently an independent consultant.

CSM Hall resides in Columbia, Tennessee, with his wife of 36 years, Brenda.

General (Ret.) Stanley A. McChrystal

A one-of-a-kind commander with a remarkable record of achievement, General Stan McChrystal is
widely praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. He is also
known for developing and implementing the counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and for
creating a comprehensive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized the way military
agencies interact and operate.

A four-star general, he was the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and
the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most
sensitive forces. His leadership of JSOC is credited with the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the
2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

He is also the author of the bestselling leadership books, My Share of the Task: A Memoir and Team
of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. Exclusively represented by Leading
Authorities speakers bureau, McChrystal, a former Green Beret, is known for his candor, innovative
leadership, and going the distance. Called “one of America’s greatest warriors” by Secretary of
Defense Robert Gates, few can speak about leadership, teamwork, and international affairs with as
much insight.

Thirty-four years of service. The son and grandson of Army officers, McChrystal graduated from West
Point in 1976 and trained at the Special Forces School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was later
commissioned as an infantry officer and spent much of his career commanding special operations and
airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations
Task Force and commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment.

He also completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997
and at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2000. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2001. In
2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later,
McChrystal was selected to deliver the nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military
operations in Iraq. From 2003-2008, he commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the
nation’s deployed military counterterrorism efforts around the globe, assuming command of all
international forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000
troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war.

Supporting military families and national service. McChrystal retired from the military in 2010. He
now serves on the board of directors for JetBlue Airways, Navistar, and the Yellow Ribbon Fund. He is
also the chairman of the board for Siemens Government. A passionate advocate for national service
and veterans’ issues, Stan is the Chair of the Board of Service Year Alliance. In this capacity, he
advocates for a future in which a year of full-time service—a service year—is a common expectation
and opportunity for all young Americans. He is also a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson
Institute for Global Affairs, where he teaches a popular course on leadership.

From the battlefield to the boardroom. General McChrystal founded the McChrystal Group in
January 2011 in order to capture the lessons he and his colleagues learned and translate them to
business. Recognizing that companies today are experiencing parallels to what he and his colleagues
faced in the war theater, General McChrystal established this advisory services firm to help
businesses challenge the hierarchical, command and control approach to organizational
management. McChrystal Group’s mission is to help organizations build adaptable teams that are
capable of solving the world’s most complex leadership challenges. The group helps shape
organizational functionality and culture through a set of principles, proven process, and leadership
behaviors, based on General McChrystal’s experiences and the lessons captured in their book, Team
of Teams. McChrystal Group has worked with global Fortune 1000 companies across sectors in order
to transform their organizations and improve their performance.

General McChrystal resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife of 37 years, Annie.