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Joe Regan, WWII B-17 Gunner and POW, Dies at 88

Regan was shot down over Germany in 1945 and captured, then liberated by Gen. George Patton's troops.

 

Joseph Earl Regan of Kirkland, a World War II veteran and prisoner of war, passed away peacefully in his home on Wednesday, March 21 at 1 p.m. His daughter Rebecca and sons Kevin and Phillip were with him at the time.

Joe was born on May 23rd 1923 in a house on the family farm near Elma, Iowa. He graduated from Immaculate Conception Catholic High School, Class of 1940. After working in Maryland for a time, Joe and his brother Don hitchhiked across the country and built the family home near Bremerton while Joe worked as a shipfitter at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

That was when Joe got his draft notice, entered the Army and volunteered to be an Air Cadet. During Pilot Training at Washington State University in Pullman, Joe met his future wife, Kathryn D. King. He didn’t know that fact at the time, “They never tell us guys till it’s too late,” he related.

The need for pilots was dwindling so Joe was sent to Nevada for gunnery training in B-17’s. He asked for the ball turret because, “He was afraid of heights and it was the closest part of the plane to the ground.” Germany, and the war, lay ahead.

On his 15th mission, February 3, 1945, Joe’s plane, “BIG DOG,” was hit by an 88mm Anti Aircraft round, which started one engine on fire. After extinguishing the fire, two more engines were hit and the entire crew bailed out. Joe was captured by a German Army patrol. He was a POW for the next three months.

Librated from Stalag 7A in Mooseburg on April 29, 1945 by General George Patton, Joe got to meet him and later, Dwight D. Eisenhower also.

Returning to Seattle, Joe re-connected with Kathryn. Doggedly persisting, “for the whole summer,” he said, she finally agreed to marry him and that happened on August 10 in her hometown of Raymond, Wa.

Over the next several years they welcomed Rebecca, Michael, Brian Kevin and Phillip to the world. Joe finished his degree in marketing at University of Washington, which led to a career as a Contracts Manager and buyer of engines and mounts for Boeing for 36 years. Joe & Kay were active in Republican politics with Joe doing duty as Precinct Captain and Delegate to several Republican National Conventions.

Also active members of the Catholic Church, the Regan’s took in (5) foster children and sponsored (9) Hmong refugee families in their home. Joe delivered, “Meals on Wheels,” from his car, volunteered in after-school reading programs and was active in the 8th Air Force Historical Society and Kiwanis of Kirkland.

Joe is survived by his wife of 66 years, Kathryn Dee, his sister, Petronilla Madden, 5 children, Rebecca O’Neill, Michael, Brian, Kevin and Phillip, 9 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren and many Regan nieces & nephews. He is predeceased by his brothers Donald Regan and Bob and Elroy Madden.

Services will be held at Saint Marks Catholic Church, 18033 15th Ave. NE, Shoreline, WA 98155, on 3 April, 2012 at 10:30 AM followed by interment at Holyrood Cemetery, 205 NE 205th St. Shoreline, WA 98155 with a reception following at the church. No flowers to the church during the Lenten Season please.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made in Joe’s name to: American Cancer Society PO Box 22718 Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718 www.cancer.org/involved Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center VAPSHCS (S116-6E) 1660 S. Columbian Way Seattle, WA 98108 depts.washington.edu/adrcweb/donatons.shtml Wounded Warrior Project 4894 Belfort Rd. Ste. 300 Jacksonville, FL 32256 woundedwarriorproject.org.

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From the Regan family. For a story about Joe Regan's wartime experiences, see .

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