The 7th annual 1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Beer Tasting fundraiser, held last Thursday night at the Portside Tavern, was another great success.
The 7th annual 1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Beer Tasting fundraiser, held last Thursday night at the Portside Tavern, was another great success. Many of Andrew’s family and friends packed the restaurant in tribute to the decorated late war veteran.
According to Andrew’s mom, Carol McKenna, this latest beer tasting event featured a wide variety of raffle prizes and drawings, as well as music by local entertainer Andre Arsenault and of course, beer tasting, with beer provided by Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, Narragansett Beer, Sons of Liberty Beer & Spirits Co., and Vigilant Brewing of Bristol. Also, commemorative woolen hats with Andrew’s image embedded on the front were for sale.
As was the case since this fundraiser began, McKenna and her husband were delighted with the turnout.
“Everyone has always been so generous,” she remarked. “We can’t thank them enough.”
Scott Grimo, one of Sgt. McKenna’s dearest friends, has been a member of this fundraising committee since it began, and said he was happy to see the all-out effort this committee puts forth each and every year.
“I’ve known Andrew since we were in nursery school,” he said. “Andrew always had that outgoing personality. If you knew him, he was your best friend. He’d do anything for you.”
Midway through the evening’s event, a surprise announcement was made by 1776 Liquors Manager Tom Sousa, who presented Carol and Peter McKenna with a check for $1,000. But that wasn’t all. Immediately after, local businessman and philanthropist Joseph M. Brito Jr., presented the McKennas a check in the amount of $2,000, a gift from the Brito Family Foundation.
“I’ve known the McKennas for decades and they’re such good people,” said Brito. “I was so happy to be a part of this fabulous fundraising event.”
Said Ms. McKenna, “Again, everyone was so gracious and accommodating here at Portside Tavern, and what more can you say about this dedicated fund-raising committee, which includes all of Andrew’s longtime friends? I know how proud he’d be.”
First Sergeant Peter Andrew McKenna, Jr. was born in 1980 and grew up in Bristol. He entered the Army on July 24, 1998 as an infantryman following his graduation from Mt. Hope High School, and attained his dream of becoming a Green Beret in 2003. Andrew did one tour in Iraq, and was on his 5th tour in Afghanistan. Andrew received more than 18 military awards and decorations, including a Bronze Star with Valor, earned on his first trip to Afghanistan in 2004-2005, and ending with a Silver Star for his actions on the night of Aug. 7, 2015 when he was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, from enemy small arms fire during a complex attack on the coalition facility, Camp Integrity.
Each year, the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund awards four $1,500 scholarships in Andrew's honor to graduating high school seniors in the State of Rhode Island. Each applicant must display academic excellence with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and plan to continue on to a two- or four-year higher education institution or pursue a career in any branch of the United States Armed Forces.
According to its website, 100% of profits go to the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donations can also be made at any Citizens Bank location including: 605 Metacom Avenue, Bristol, Rhode Island, 02809; 464 Hope Street, Bristol, Rhode Island, 02809; 521 Main Street, Warren, Rhode Island, 02885, and 965 County Road, Barrington, Rhode Island, 02806.
Joe Brito put everything in proper perspective:
“To see this many people congregate here in support of this great American war hero makes you fully understand what he meant, not only to his friends and family, but the entire Bristol community,” he said. “This has been such a wonderful experience.”