VET_Blog_DTOP_BelowTitle_300x250

Why Did This Soldier Die In Afghanistan If We’re Not At War?

We have lost another soldier in Afghanistan. Master Sgt. Andrew McKenna Jr., a member of the 7th Special Forces Group, was a very special soldier. According to the Army Times, “Even among some of the Army’s best and brightest, McKenna stood out.”

Master Sgt. McKenna was killed in a firefight with Taliban terrorists on August 7, 2015, at Camp Integrity, a special operations forces facility in the Afghan capital of Kabul. For his actions during that battle, Master Sgt. McKenna has been recommended for the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor. Let me tell you a little about this good soldier and fine young man.

Dignified transfer of Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr. / via The Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation

Master Sgt., Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., was a member of 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He was from Bristol, Rhode Island. He joined the Army in 1998 as an infantryman and served with the 10th Mountain Division. He completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2002 and was assigned at that time to 7th Group in 2003.


According to the Army Times article, McKenna, during his 17 year long career was awarded:

  • The Master Free Fall Parachutist Badge
  • The Master Parachutist Badge
  • The Bronze Star Medal with V device
  • 4 more Bronze Star Medals
  • The Meritorious Service Medal
  • The Army Commendation Medal
  • The Combat Infantryman Badge
  • The Air Assault Badge
  • The Special Forces Tab

He will also be awarded the Purple Heart Medal posthumously.


But there is more. Just this year, McKenna finished a bachelor’s degree from Norwich University. His fellow soldiers attest to the quality of his character as a leader and as a friend and advisor. For example, he is described as being a smart investor. He helped many of his fellow soldiers by teaching them the value of saving and investing their money. He was there for them when they were injured as well.

image

Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr. / Via the U.S. Army and Stripes

One friend, Christopher Corbin, who served with McKenna in the 7th Group said of him, “Everything said on paper doesn’t do him near enough justice, not just the kind of guy he was, but the kind of soldier, the kind of Green Beret he was.” Corbin was wounded in Afghanistan in 2011 and is a double amputee. He says that when he was wounded,

“[McKenna] stayed with me, for weeks, literally, up at Walter Reed. Every time I opened my eyes from whatever surgery or medication, Drew was right there.

He’s that guy you can count on.”

McKenna was the kind of person who brought a smile to everything. He was good at cheering others up. His courage and care for his fellow soldiers was almost legendary. He saw action many times over the years of the post 9/11 wars.

7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) insignia / Via Eglin Airforce Base

On August 7th of this year, enemy fighters got into Camp Integrity after blowing up a vehicle loaded with explosives. On hearing the explosion, McKenna is described as grabbing his gear and his weapon and went toward the fight with his friend who was also severely injured in the action and is now being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. They went to the fight side-by-side against the attackers. Corbin said that McKenna did that dozens of times in his career with the Special Forces. McKenna was struck down by small arms fire in that engagement that followed and succumbed to his injuries shortly thereafter.

Master Sgt. Andrew McKenna is the third American soldier to be killed in action since all direct combat forces were removed from Afghanistan in January of this year.

Back in the spring I wrote about the first soldier to be killed in action, Specialist John Dawson, a combat medic. Master Sgt. Pablo Ruiz of 3rd Special Forces Group died on May 4, 2015 in a non-combat related incident. As you may know we still have some 10,000 American military still in Afghanistan training Afghan Army and police to defend their own country more effectively.

Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr. / Via 7th Forces Group and Army Times


The attack at Camp Integrity was one of a string of attacks that Taliban forces undertook in Kabul that day. General Ray Odierno sent his prayers to the McKenna family during his briefing with reporters at the Pentagon last Wednesday. “This reminds us we have soldiers around the world doing dangerous things every single day.” We hear at The Veterans Site wish to send our deepest condolences to the parents, family, fellow soldiers, and friends of Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr.

His parents also lost their younger son three years ago in a motorcycle accident. Mr. and Mrs. McKenna, we here at The Veterans Site mourn this loss with you.

We promise to never forget the quality and the character of your son. His unwavering courage in facing those who threaten our freedom today, his dedication to his fellow soldiers and to his country, give us all an example to emulate.


Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna, you were one of the best among us. Rest in peace now good soldier, good son, good brother and good friend. Know that you are in our prayers. The hard, dangerous work and the sacrifices undertaken to defend our freedom continue and we keep all of our military in our daily thoughts and prayers, especially all those who are presently in harm’s way around the world today.

Proper VET veteranssite_belowcontent
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.