Wednesday, February 6, 2019

World War I Hero Army Lieutenant John Regan, D.S.C. [otd 02/06]

Timothy Regan. J. H. Hawley photo.
U. S. Army Lieutenant John M. Regan, D.S.C., was born February 6, 1886, in Silver City, Idaho. John’s father Timothy, with ample capital from his hotel and other business interests, came into possession of many valuable mining properties as they fell on hard times. When the economy improved, Timothy grew not just prosperous, but quite wealthy. The family moved to Boise City in 1889 and father Regan quickly became a prominent leader in area development.

John Regan attended Boise schools and then graduated “maxima cum laude” from Santa Clara College in California in 1904. Upon his return to Boise, he entered a lower position in Timothy Regan’s holdings. Later, he became an official of the Boise Artesian Hot & Cold Water Company.

John also joined in the various social, athletic, and charitable endeavors expected for the son of a wealthy and influential Boise leader. Thus, he often refereed at football games around the area. He also proved to have a gift for acting in amateur stage plays. In 1911, he played the lead in a show whose proceeds were earmarked for the building fund of the Roman Catholic St. John’s Cathedral [blogs February 1 and November 11].
John Regan. J. H. Hawley photo.

He also enrolled, as a private, in the Idaho National Guard, but his impressive educational credentials soon brought officer’s rank. Despite some organizational complications, Regan was part of the Guard unit when it was merged into the Army's 116th Engineering Regiment for service in World War I. The unit sailed for France in 1918.

There, Regan requested, and was granted a transfer to a front-line unit. He joined the 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Division, composed of nationalized Guard units from Wisconsin and Michigan. Toward the end of July, the Division was ordered into the counter-attack meant to decide the Second Battle of the Marne. By then, French and American forces had begun to reduce the German salient, despite fierce resistance.

On the 31st, regiments of the 32nd Division advanced through and around the village of Cierges (located 60-65 miles northeast of Paris). Their objective on August 1 was “Hill 230.” Two regiments attacked the hill itself while the 128th assaulted Bellevue Farm, which anchored the German’s defensive line. The attack captured Hill 230, but Lt. Regan was hit clearing the Bellevue Farm defenses.
32nd Division soldiers assembling for attack, August 1, 1918.
U. S. Army Signal Corps photograph.

The medal citation read, “The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to John M. Regan, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Cierges, France, August 1, 1918. Mortally wounded by enemy fire while leading his platoon, Second Lieutenant Regan remained at the head of his men till he collapsed. He set an example of coolness and fortitude to his command, encouraging them by word and action.”

The posthumous biography in Hawley’s History noted that during the service for Lt. Regan at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, “for the first time a gold star was placed among the one hundred and twenty blue stars of the service flag of the parish.”

Hawley also wrote, “The Ada county post of the World War Veterans has been named the John M. Regan Post in his honor.” John’s remains were repatriated and interred in the family plot in Boise. American Legion “John Regan Post 2” honors his sacrifice each Memorial Day.
References: [Hawley]
The 32nd Division in the World War I, 1917-1919, Wisconsin War History Commission, Madison (1920).
“[John M. Regan News],” Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho (November 26, 1908 – February 27, 1917).


  1. Thank you for this post. I am an historian in San Jose, California, researching John M. Regan in order to put into context a short story he wrote while a student at Santa Clara College in 1903.

    1. Bonnie

      I am Commander of John Regan Post #2 of the American Legion in Boise, Idaho. This Post started in 1919 and is the second oldest in the State of Idaho. The oldest is inactive, but Post #2 is very active with nearly 300 members and growing. Harold Eshelman-Commander

    2. Hello Harold, I am the great great grandson of LT Fred Rossman who served with John Regan. Any information you have about Company D would be greatly appreciated! D. E. Larocque

  2. Thank you for this post. My father John M. Regan Col USAF ret. was named after this man, his uncle. I have his service sword sitting hanging in our living room!

    1. Thank YOU for visiting my blog. When you say "his service sword," I assume you mean that of your great-uncle.
      The biographies in J. H. Hawley for John M. as well as father Timothy are quite long, and very nice. If you do not have access to that old history, I would be glad to send you electronic copies of both. Just send me a note at the (slightly masked) e-mail address shown in my Profile.

    2. Hello! As I said above, I am the great great grandson of LT Fred Rossman who served with John Regan. Any information you have about Company D would be greatly appresiated. I have access to the entire book on the 32nd by Colonel G. W. Garlock titled Tales of the Thirty-Second which is amazing, but I don't think I have access to Hawley.

      Thank you!
      D. E. Larocque

  3. Timothy "Pa Tim" Regan is my great grandfather and John M. Regan is my great uncle, brother of William Valentine Regan, my grandfather.
    -- Christopher Regan Ferree