BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island native has been killed overseas, Eyewitness News has learned.
First Sergeant P. Andrew McKenna, of Bristol, was killed Friday during an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Senator Jack Reed’s office confirmed Saturday. Eight Afghan contractors were also killed during the attack.
McKenna returned to Rhode Island in July, where he was honored during Bristol’s Annual Fourth of July Parade, Reed’s office said. He was awarded an American flag by the senator.
Reed’s office issued a statement Saturday saying:
“I join all Rhode Islanders in mourning the loss of Andrew McKenna. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Andrew and his family. Sgt. McKenna was an extraordinary young man with a big heart and a dedicated, distinguished soldier.
We are forever indebted to Sgt. McKenna for his service and sacrifice. America has lost a true patriot and I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow soldiers. Andrew’s life was cut short, but his service will not be forgotten.”
Governor Gina Raimondo announced the U.S. and Rhode Island flags would be lowered on Tuesday in honor of McKenna. The flag will stay at half-staff until he is laid to rest.
“Master Sergeant McKenna served our nation with distinction. All Rhode Islanders are grateful for his service, and our prayers are with his family and loved ones,” Gov. Raimondo said in a statement. “We have lost a patriot and a hero.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse issued a statement Sunday:
“We grieve for Master Sergeant Andrew McKenna, his family, and all those who loved him. This is a true loss for Rhode Island and our nation. Drew made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and will be remembered forever as a hero and a patriot. As we honor Drew’s life and selfless service, let us also reflect on the commitment and courage that the men and women in uniform make on our behalf every day. My thoughts and prayers are with all those whom Andrew touched throughout his life.”
Congressman David Cicilline added his thoughts in a statement Sunday, writing:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of First Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna, a heroic Rhode Islander, who gave his life in service of our nation. During his 17 years of active duty, he completed five tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Sgt. McKenna embodied all of the best values of our state. I was fortunate to meet Sgt. McKenna last month at the Bristol Fourth of July Parade and had the opportunity to thank him for his extraordinary service.”
Congressman Jim Langevin added:
“Andrew McKenna was a brave young man and a dedicated soldier, and my heart is full of grief for the unimaginable loss felt by his family and friends, and by the State of Rhode Island. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire McKenna family; Andrew was truly a hero.
“It is a tragedy whenever an American soldier dies in service to his or her country, and this devastating loss is particularly acute. Andrew’s sacrifice will never be forgotten, and as we pray for his loved ones, let us also pray for the courageous men and women who continue to serve and selflessly protect this nation.”
And State Representative Raymond Gallison, who represents Bristol and Portsmouth, told Eyewitness News that news of McKenna’s death had “shaken the whole town of Bristol,” calling McKenna an unassuming person whose family had strong ties to the community.
The Department of Defense reported Sunday that Master Sergeant McKenna, who was 35, was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the 7th Special Forces Group. In a brief statement, the Defense Department said that McKenna died “of wounds suffered when he was attacked by enemy small arms fire.”
Stars and Stripes, citing a military spokesperson, reported that a bomb detonated at a base known as Camp Integrity and was followed by an assault in which several insurgents and eight other civilian contractors were killed.
According to military officials, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.Neil Remiesiewicz and James O’Leary contributed to this report.