Friends gather to remember Sgt. McKenna and raise money

Third annual McKenna Beer Tasting event remembers a military hero and helps young students

By Manuel C. "Manny" Correira
Posted 2/2/18

The upstairs area at Aidan’s Pub was filled with love and admiration last Wednesday night for a local war hero who lost his life in defense of his country. Now, nearly three years later, family …

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Friends gather to remember Sgt. McKenna and raise money

Third annual McKenna Beer Tasting event remembers a military hero and helps young students

Posted

The upstairs area at Aidan’s Pub was filled with love and admiration last Wednesday night for a local war hero who lost his life in defense of his country. Now, nearly three years later, family and friends of First Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna continue to honor his legacy with a special event to help raise money for a scholarship fund in his name.

The third annual McKenna Beer Tasting event was another huge success, as many of Sgt. McKenna’s family and friends gathered to pay tribute to a man whose heroism has never been forgotten.

“All profits from the dinner benefit the 1st SGT. P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund,” said event co-host and dear friend Charlene Ferreira. “This scholarship was set up after Andrew passed by his friends and family. Scholarships are awarded annually to graduating high school seniors moving on to a two- or four-year institution, or entering into a career in any branch of the U.S. military.”

Thanks to the generosity of Aidan’s Pub, which donated their upstairs room, staff, food and beer, the event attracted one of the largest crowds in the three years the event has been held.

Narragansett Beer, Grey Sail Brewing, Harpoon Brewery, and Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. all donated the beer,” said Ms. Ferreira.  “Andrew loved his country, his beer, and his home state of Rhode Island. We wanted to keep this local and raise funds for the scholarship fund while also helping to promote Rhode Island business.”

In addition, entertainment was provided by local musician and singer Andre Arsenault.  There was also a wide variety of delectable food items.

First Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna, 35, a highly-decorated war hero, was a Green Beret from Bristol, killed in action on Aug. 7, 2015, in Kabul, Afghanistan, while defending Camp Integrity. Andrew served active duty for 17 years, and was a member of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) since 2003, based in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. He completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2002, and was assigned to 7th Group as a communications sergeant in May 2003.

A lifelong Bristolian, Andrew, the son of Peter A. and Carol A. (Fennell) McKenna of Bristol, entered the Army in 1998, after graduating from Mt. Hope High School. He also earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Norwich University. Just prior to his death, Andrew was honored by the Bristol Fourth of July Committee as the farthest traveler for the Bristol Fourth of July Celebration in 2015.

“Andrew was a friend to many Bristol residents,” said Ms. Ferreira. “He was an American hero, and it was an honor to be his friend.”

Andrew’s mother, Carol Fennell McKenna, said she couldn’t thank the committee enough for their hard work and efforts in making this event such a success.

“These kids are amazing for what they do for Andrew,” she beamed. “The event gets bigger every year. Peter and I are so thankful for what they do for our family.”

Committee members Scott Grimo, Philicia Pacheco, Jonathan Ferreira, Charlene Ferreira, Cliff Jorge, and Gina-Marie Jorge are all friends of Andrew’s.

“Thank you to all the sponsors and everyone who has supported the Scholarship Committee,” said Ms. Ferreira. “Without the support and contributions from our sponsors and the community, it would not be possible to keep 1SG P. Andrew McKenna’s name alive. For 2018, the Scholarship committee will be giving out $6,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors in the state of Rhode Island.”

Donations can be made to the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna Scholarship Fund at any Citizens Bank. 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.