Fallen hero returns home to Rhode Island

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — A Bristol native who was struck down fighting for our country in Afghanistan will soon be laid to rest.

The remains of First Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna arrived at Quonset Air Force Base at about 12:30 p.m. Friday.

McKenna, 35, was killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul last Friday.

The decorated Special Forces soldier has been described as an American hero, with multiple tours of duty overseas. He’s now being considered for the Silver Star Medal, the nation’s third-highest military combat decoration.

“This young man gave his life for our country. It’s very difficult. A lot of people are very emotional,” Said Rep. Raymond Gallison (D). “The community is coming to mourn and we’re going to give him the proper honor – the proper dignity that he rightfully deserves.”

Following the dignified transfer of McKenna’s remains, Rhode Island State Police escorted him to Sansone Funeral Home in Bristol by way of Route 403 to Route 4 to I-95 North to I-195 East to Route 136. Signs of respect were seen at every mile along the route, and back in Bristol – the special forces soldier was greeted with applause.

Photos: Sgt. McKenna's return home »
Photos: Sgt. McKenna’s return home »

“It’s just too bad he had to go so young, you know? There’s still people over there fighting the war,” said Robert Archambauld of Bristol.

Flags have been ordered to be lowered half-staff by Gov. Gina Raimondo until McKenna is laid to rest.

“Things like that don’t happen around here. It’s a tragedy, it’s not joyful. But it is a tragedy. But it’s something for Bristol to remember,” added Mary Silvia.

A wake for McKenna is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at St. Mary of the Bay in Warren. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the same location.

McKenna will be buried with full military honors at St. Mary’s Cemetery on Chestnut Street, next to his brother Patrick, who died in a motorcycle crash in 2005.

Arthur Medeiros, a World War II veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, said McKenna’s death is personal to the military community.

“I got hit twice. One at the bulge and one right after we crossed the Rhine -but I am here. And that’s why I came. I went over there with so many friends and only came back with about 12. And it’s hard. It’s hard. Especially when you see something like this,” he told Eyewitness News.

An online campaign is encouraging as many people as possible to line the route as the funeral procession passes through Warren and Bristol as a show of respect to McKenna and his family. The procession will leave the church at about noon Monday and take Route 114 (Main Street in Warren and Hope Street in Bristol) to the burial site.

Memorial contributions can made to 1SG P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, C/O Citizens Bank, Bell Tower Plaza, 576 Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI 02809 or to the Wounded Veteran Retreat Program, P.O. Box 619, Parkton, NC 28371.

Annie Shalvey contributed to this report.

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