WARREN, R.I. (WPRI) — Local authorities are making final preparations for the anticipated outpouring of mourners and supporters who will being coming out to honor a fallen Rhode Island soldier.
First Sergeant Peter Andrew McKenna, of Bristol, was killed August 7th during an attack on Camp Integrity in Kabul, Afghanistan. The 35-year-old served in the United States military for 17 years.
Hundreds of people lined the street Sunday in the heat to pay their respects to McKenna during a wake at St. Mary of the Bay Church in Warren.
Many people who came out told Eyewitness News how proud they are to have had a soldier like him in their community.
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“He is what I consider a true hero,” said Warren Fire Chief Alexander Galinelli. “He knew the outcome when he went into battle. Maybe not the first time, not the fifth time, And that’s the kind of patriotism we have in our military people. He died so that people could do what they want, because of the freedom in this country.”
Galinelli, a Vietnam veteran, said he is so proud to see the Bristol-Warren community coming together to honor Sgt. McKenna.
“Patriotism in these two towns, I don’t think you can beat it,” he said.
Others turned out to show their supports as well, like Randy Pullen. Pullen added an American flag to his bicycle as he made his way to the church.
“He was a great guy and he died for our country,” he said.
Police, firefighters and volunteers handed out water bottles and offered support to people who stood in the long line to get a chance to offer condolences to McKenna’s family.
“There’s been an outpouring of support in this town, you would not believe,” Galinelli said.
“We’re a very close-knit community and we like to help each other in times like this,” added Michael Kinney of Warren.
A funeral mass will take place at the church at 11 a.m. Monday – before First Sgt. McKenna is buried in his hometown of Bristol.
People from both communities are planning to line the street for the three-mile processional and make a final salute to the soldier.