New Irish Veterans chapter honors First Sgt. McKenna

Local group forms new Rhode Island chapter and names it for heroic Bristol soldier

By Manuel C. "Manny" Correira
Posted 1/16/20

The legacy of local war hero 1SG P. Andrew McKenna lives on with the recent establishment of the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna Irish Vets Chapter. 

According to Michael Byrnes, a close friend of the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


New Irish Veterans chapter honors First Sgt. McKenna

Local group forms new Rhode Island chapter and names it for heroic Bristol soldier

Posted

The legacy of local war hero 1SG P. Andrew McKenna lives on with the recent establishment of the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna Irish Vets Chapter. 

According to Michael Byrnes, a close friend of the McKenna family and a founder of this new veterans’ chapter, a group have gotten together to form a Rhode Island Chapter of the Irish Vets, a worldwide organization of Irish veterans. 

“In forming the chapter,” Mr. Byrnes explained, “we thought it most appropriate to name this chapter in honor of Bristol’s own 1SG P. Andrew McKenna. It is with great enthusiasm that we announce the establishment of the Rhode Island, 1SG P. Andrew McKenna Chapter of the Irish Veterans, the 4th United States chapter, under the auspices of the headquarters chapter in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.”

The local chapter endeavors to celebrate the military veterans community in Rhode Island, particularly those veterans of Irish heritage, as well as to support charitable causes, especially the 1SG Andrew McKenna Scholarship Fund that was founded in 2015 shortly after Andrew’s death.

Known to his family as Andrew and to his Army friends as “Drew,” 1SG P. Andrew McKenna grew up in Bristol, graduating from Mt. Hope High School in 1998. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 24, 1998, fulfilling his lifelong desire to be a soldier. During his nearly 18 years of service, Andrew completed five combat tours and while deployed on his sixth combat tour was killed in action on Aug. 8, 2015, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

At the time, Andrew was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Group Special Forces, and was serving as 1st Sergeant at Camp Integrity. Andrew’s actions while under enemy attack ensured the safety of more than 300 people, for which he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest military honor for valor on the battlefield.

“We’re now in the process of setting up the administrative end of the membership,” Mr. Byrnes added. “The Irish in America have a great military history. This is a way to celebrate their history.”

As one of the founders of the Rhode Island Chapter, along with Drew’s cousin, Robert McKenna; and Michael Manning, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard; and 1st Lt. Thomas O’Rielly of the National Guard, both members of the Newport Rugby team, Mr. Byrnes is excited that this new chapter has become a reality.

“Peter and Carol McKenna (Drew’s parents) have been on-board as advisors,” said Mr. Byrnes. “Things have been going very well.”

Active membership is open to veterans of Irish heritage while Friend of Irish Veterans Membership is open to all who wish to support the cause.

Robert McKenna said honoring his cousin in this special way “is a great tribute to him.”

“It’s not only a nice tribute to Andrew, but all veterans in general,” he said, “especially this year, which marks the fifth anniversary of Drew’s passing.”

Those interested can learn more about membership or how you can support the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna Chapter of the Irish Veterans Organization by contacting Amy Costa at 401/714-9382, irishvetschapter04@gmail.com or Tommy Reilly at 401/633-5135, tbreilly92@gmail.com.

“Our objective is not historical or social, but to help support the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna Scholarship Foundation,” said Mr. Byrnes. “This is a great Bristol cause.”

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.