8th Annual Andrew P. McKenna fundraiser draws crowd to Portside Tavern

By Manny Correira
Posted 3/4/24

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.

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8th Annual Andrew P. McKenna fundraiser draws crowd to Portside Tavern


The saga of the late First Sergeant P. Andrew McKenna Jr. continues to live through the eyes of his family, close friends, and many others who considered themselves lucky enough to have been in his company.

Last Thursday evening inside the jam-packed Portside Tavern in Bristol, Andrew’s star shone brightly as all of the above put their best foot forward in raising money for the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, which awards four $1,500 scholarships in Andrew’s honor to graduating high school seniors in the state of Rhode Island. Furthermore, 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 scholarship fund. Donations can also be made at any Citizens Bank location including: 605 Metacom Ave., Bristol; 464 Hope St., Bristol; 521 Main St., Warren; and 965 County Rd., Barrington.

Peter Andrew McKenna, Jr., "Drew" to friends and "Andrew" to family, was born in 1980 and grew up in Bristol. At the age of 5, Andrew decided to be a soldier, and at 7, he determined he was going to become a part of the highly-respected Army Special Forces. He is remembered by his family and childhood friends for wearing camouflage every day.

Andrew entered the Army on July 24, 1998, as an Infantryman following his graduation from Mt. Hope High School. In April 2001 he went to selection for Special Forces, and attained his dream of becoming a Green Beret in 2003, where Andrew was assigned to the First Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, based in Eglin Air force Base, Florida. Andrew did one tour in Iraq, and was on his 5th tour in Afghanistan. He was well known at each of his duty stations for his attention to detail, strong work ethic, commitment to excellence and quick humor.

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 August 7, 2015 when he was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, from enemy small arms fire during a complex attack on the coalition facility, Camp Integrity.

The Bristol Fourth of July Committee also honored Andrew as its farthest traveler for the town’s 2015 Fourth of July Celebration. He later had the Bristol Post Office renamed in his honor.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Charlene Ferreira announced, “A big shout-out to all the vendors who generously donated their time and products to make our Beer Tasting a success: Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, Vigilant Brewing, Narragansett Beer, Sons of Liberty Spirits Co., Six Pack Brewing, Sagamore Sales & Marketing (Tim Kery), Andre Arsenault for providing the entertainment, and Portside Tavern for providing the delicious food. We're also thrilled to announce that thanks to the generosity of our vendors and attendees, proceeds from the Beer Tasting go directly into the 1SG P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donations are always welcome and you can purchase past merchandise at www.1sgmckenna.com.”

Andrew’s mom (and a Warren native), Carol McKenna, was of course taken in by all of the people who came to support the 1st Sgt, P. Andrew McKenna Memorial Scholarship last week.

“I can’t thank all of these people enough for all their support,” she said. “This committee works very hard to make this happen each and every year. And, thanks to Portside Tavern owner Richie Corrente and his staff here at the Tavern for being so hospitable.”

“Andrew was a brave soldier of the first magnitude, a loving son, big brother to Patrick and a loyal and caring friend who never failed to put a smile on the faces of those around him,” she added.

One of his closest friends was Scott Grimo, who together with Jonathan Ferreira and Cliff Jorge, all graduated together from Mt. Hope High School. They were “three of a kind,” as one attendee pointed out.

The core base of this wonderful friendship also includes Charlene Ferreira, Philicia Grimo, and Gina-Marie Jorge, among others.

Last Thursday’s 8th annual 1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna, Jr. Beer Tasting Fundraiser featured “Spec Ops Beer”, which was new to this event last year, and according to Scott Grimo, is a collaboration between Vigilant Brewing Co. of Bristol and Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, a sponsor of this event since 2016.

“Grey Sail owners Jennifer and Alan Brinton have been awesome,” said Scott. “They’re amazing and the best of people.”

Also featured were Narragansett Brewing Co., Six Pack Brewing Co. and Sons of Liberty Spirits Co.

The evening’s festivities also included a lively music session courtesy of Tom Hanson Music and entertainer Andre Arsenault.

As Carol McKenna so aptly put it when all was said and done, “These wonderful people here do it all. They tell me to show up and smile.”

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