BRISTOL, R.I. -- An Army Green Beret from Rhode Island has been killed in Afghanistan just a month after he was honored at the historic Fourth of July parade in his hometown of Bristol.
The 7th Special Forces Group to which he was assigned said Sunday that Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., 35, died Friday in Kabul during an attack on a NATO facility. The Pentagon said he was struck by enemy small arms fire.
McKenna, a 17-year Army veteran, had also served in Iraq and been awarded the Bronze Star with V device for heroism in combat operations, as well as the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. He was serving at the operations rank of first sergeant during his deployment in Afghanistan.
Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who announced McKenna's death Saturday night, had joined state Rep. Raymond Gallison at the Bristol parade, one of the nation's oldest Independence Day celebrations, to present McKenna with a U.S. flag flown over the Capitol.
Reed called McKenna "an extraordinary young man with a big heart and a dedicated, distinguished soldier."
Gallison told the Providence Journal that McKenna's death "is absolutely devastating to the family and the entire town of Bristol."
McKenna is survived by his parents, Peter and Carol McKenna of Bristol.
Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered flags flown at half-staff beginning Tuesday through his funeral services. "All Rhode Islanders are grateful for his service, and our prayers are with his family and loved ones," she said.
The Army said McKenna began his service in 1998 as an infantryman, and qualified for Special Forces in 2002. He was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group, now based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, as communications sergeant in 2003. He earned a bachelor's degree in strategic studies from Norwich University last year.