Jack Thomas Regan was born on March 7, 1917, in the little town of Deadwood, South Dakota. Jack’s father, Thomas F. Regan, worked on the railroad when Jack was young. Thomas received a terrible cut and the wound became infected. He died from complications from this infection when Jack was in the eighth grade. Jack’s mother, Sarah Marnett Regan, became the household income earner and worked at Montgomery Wards in the women’s department and was still working there when Jack enlisted in the service.
Jack Regan was a high school sports star. He was a varsity starter in football and basketball and ran varsity track. There are many records that still stand in the annals of Deadwood High School recognizing his achievements. He received a football scholarship to play at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. He attended college but broke his nose his first season as a Jackrabbit. This was before face guards were on athletes’ helmets, which were only made of leather. He couldn’t continue at South Dakota State University after losing his football scholarship, so Jack returned to his hometown of Deadwood and began working for the company of Paxton Gallagher as a salesman and wholesale grocer.
Jack worked for Paxton Gallagher’s company until he enlisted in the military. He was heavily affected by December 7, 1941, “the date which will live in infamy.” This is also the day that Jack knew he needed to enlist in the armed forces and serve his country. Jack enlisted at the age of twenty-five into the United States Navy on January 11, 1942. He was considered an older enlistee at basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Station, which is north of Chicago. Only 5 of the 400 continued their training at the advanced radio school. Jack was notified he finished in the top of his class. He later discovered that no one from the initial class he was in survived the war, except for him. After his training, he was sent overseas to fight Japan’s Imperial Navy and square off with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.
Jack was stationed in the 13th US Navy radio station. He was in this unit until the end of the war. Jack was one of the many men that helped crack Japan’s radio code set in place by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Jack would brag to his friends and family about this amazing accomplishment until the day he died. On December 13, 1945, Jack was honorably discharged from the United States Navy. He returned home to Deadwood, South Dakota, where he began working for Paxton Gallagher’s company again.
In Deadwood, he met his future wife, June (Judy) Elizabeth. Soon the small family grew larger. In 1950, Jack’s second son, Thomas, was born. In 1951, stomach churning news arrived at the Regan’s front door. Due to his superior skills and excellent training, Jack had been asked to return to the service to assist the United States’ efforts in the Korean Conflict.
Jack was stationed in the Panama Canal listening to radio chatter between harbored ships. This was important because they didn’t want a surprise attack on the Panama Canal. Jack was a Commander in the Ninth Naval District, and was the highest ranked officer on the small base of Toro Point. But this war was different from World War II, as was the nature of his service. This time he could bring his family with him. Jack, Judy, Richard, and Thomas were all at the Panama Canal from 1951 to 1953. About one year was spent at the small base of Toro Point before Jack and his family were transferred to another base, also in the Panama Canal, called Coco Solo. Coco Solo was a larger base in a rather large town. Jack and his family spent the remainder of the conflict there. They returned back to the United States just before Christmas of 1953 and returned to that little town he called home, Deadwood. It was here that the family grew with the birth of Daniel in 1953.
Written by Haley Clark