Manhasset fallen soldier remembered
There are various degrees of separation from James J. Regan of Manhasset. On a late summer morning, it was clear that the U.S. Army Ranger had touched many lives.
Why else would 60 members of the Army lacrosse team make the two-hour trip from West Point to participate in Jimmy’s Gold Star Memorial Run on Sept. 19?
Their coach, Joe Alberici, was Jimmy’s assistant coach at Duke, where her son was an All-American lacrosse player, Mary Regan told the Manhasset Press. She called Alberici “the best guy in the world, a solid good guy. We’ve had a relationship forever with him. So he sends his boys down here for the run. ”
Deena Kay of Nesconset was the first woman to finish the 3½-mile course, clocking 28:14.
Asked what brought her to Manhasset, she replied, “My husband Gregory went to Chaminade and played lacrosse with Jimmy.”
Three men ran together for the entirety of the race: Scott Patterson, Michael Gallo and Joe Astorita.
Patterson, of New Jersey, was the executive officer of Jimmy’s Company C.
“The first time I met Jimmy I was in awe,” Patterson said. “A Duke D1 lacrosse player, absolute stud, a complete standout in the regiment. He was a great guy with a great future ahead of him. He answered the call to bring the fight to the enemy on their territory.”
Gallo, of Yonkers, former Army Ranger from the 2nd Ranger Battalion said, “I did not know Jimmy, but I’ve become friendly with the family.”
Astorita, of Long Island, said he played against Jimmy when he attended Hofstra University.
“You guys used to play Duke in lacrosse?” Astorita was asked.
“We used to lose to them a lot,” he laughed.
Sgt. Regan, who served with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was killed in action in Iraq in February 2007. He is honored annually with the run, which raises money for the Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund, created by his parents to aid fellow Rangers. It has dispensed $14 million to help veterans.
“When Jimmy was killed we [realized] that the [Navy] SEALs have the SEALs Foundation, but there was nothing for the Rangers, so we [created it] and it has so many different programs,” Mary Regan said, noting that 96 percent of the money raised goes to programs.
The run was held in NYC for its first 13 years, and was canceled by the pandemic in 2020.
“We had no apprehension about holding it here in Manhasset,” James Regan told the Manhasset Press. “New York City was not conducive to people. They don’t want to go there.”
Added his wife, “Because it’s more of a family event it’s difficult for people to bring their strollers on the subway, the train. We said, ‘You know what? Jimmy grew up here. Let’s do it here.’ ”
More than 500 people registered online, Mary said, “and we have a bunch of walk-ins. I think it’s going to be great.”
“The VA does a lot, but we are an active duty service organization,” James said of the foundation. “We build homes. We fill the gaps that the government doesn’t take care of. That’s our whole mission.”
During his opening remarks, Regan said, “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since 9/11. An event that rocked this community and rocked it to the core. And the reason that Jimmy became an Army Ranger. We’re still here today because of Jimmy and the rest of the folks that have served this nation. It gives us the opportunity to honor and remember and celebrate Jimmy and all those lives that were lost.”
Regan introduced Brother Tom Cleary, president of Chaminade High School in Mineola.
“I had the pleasure of teaching Sgt. Jimmy Regan when he was a freshman at Chaminade,” Cleary told the crowd. “I can I assure you Jimmy was and is a powerful inspiration to all the students who walk the halls of Chaminade to this day. In fact, he had a hand in naming our Gold Star Stadium as a permanent memorial to Jimmy and the 56 gold star alumni from Chaminade.”
Cleary also wanted to remember in his prayers the three young men from Manhasset who were killed in a tragic car accident in Suffolk County earlier this summer (Michael and James Farrell and Ryan Kies), as well as Brianna Maglio, who was critically injured.
An avid runner, Cleary said he was devoting his road races to Maglio and her recovery.
“This morning our hearts are filled with gratitude and awe for those who serve our country in the Armed Forces,” Cleary said. “Their love for our country serves as a beacon of hope for all. Keep us ever mindful of the sacrifices our service men and women make on behalf of this great country. We are also filled with sadness at the loss of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms.”
Also speaking was Jamie Brodsky, captain of the 2000 lacrosse team at Duke and Regan’s teammate. He co-founded Jimmy’s Run with his sister Jill, the chief operations officer of the Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund.
“We survived administrations. We survived wars. We survived pandemics. We come back because we care about our community,” he said. “And here we are in Jimmy’s home. We’re returning again. Every year we come to honor his legacy.”
He lauded the first responders as well as those who served, and made note that state Senator Todd Kaminsky and former state Senator Elaine Phillips were in attendance.
Brodsky concluded, “When you think about 20th anniversary of 9/11, when you think about those [firefighters] who climbed those stairs [in the towers], when you think about the Jimmy Regans of the world who went into harm’s way. That’s one of the takeaways. All you young people, old people, as you go about your days and you get tired and you get down, think about those who went up those stairs. Think about Sgt. James Regan. Because we could always do better.”
“The pain still remains?” Mary Regan was asked.
“Oh God, every day, every day,” she replied. “Some days are worse than others. But you never get over it. You lose a child, you never get over it.”
James Regan said, “We miss him dearly. But he’s a patriot. He walked away from a really nice position on Wall Street and decided to serve his country first.”
During his remarks, Regan thanked the many volunteers and supporters who made the run successful, including the Chaminade and Duke families, Atwell Brothers Tent Rentals, the Town of North Hempstead, Mark Sauvigne and The Manhasset Park District, Village of Munsey Park, Plandome Manor Mayor Barbara Donno, Nassau County Police Department 6th Precinct, Once Upon a Party’s Jannine and Gordon Sandmeier, the Sarcona, Brodsky and Vlahos families, Tommy Susco and The Meade Brothers Band.
To learn more visit https://www.leadthewayfund.org.