Legislation signed earlier this month by Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo named a conference room at the new veterans’ home in Bristol the “1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group Memorial Conference Room,” according to information from the Rhode Island General Assembly website.

A 7th Special Forces Group soldier killed two years ago in Afghanistan will be memorialized, along with his unit, at the new state-of-the-art veterans’ home in his home state of Rhode Island.

Legislation signed earlier this month by Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo named a conference room at the new veterans’ home in Bristol the “1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group Memorial Conference Room,” according to information from the Rhode Island General Assembly website.

McKenna, a native of Bristol, R.I., died in an Aug. 7, 2015, attack on Camp Integrity, a Special Forces base in Kabul. He was 35 years old.  

The $120 million veterans’ home, located in Bristol, was funded roughly equally by the federal government and Rhode Island taxpayers. The home comprises 200 beds and allows veterans to live in cottages with private bedrooms and bathrooms, and to use common areas including a chapel, coffee shop, library, medical facilities and two conference rooms. Rhode Island is among the first states to use the community-living concept for long-term care of its veterans. 

Gov. Raimondo officially opened the home in a Veterans Day ribbon-cutting, saying, “I’m proud that Rhode Island is now leading the way in recognizing the sacrifice of those who’ve served our great nation. Our veterans deserve nothing less.” 

The bill honoring McKenna and the 7th Special Forces Group, based at Eglin Air Force Base, was sponsored by Rep. Samuel Azzinaro, D-Westerly, a National Guard and Army Reserve veteran who chairs the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Sen. Walter Felag, D-Warren, who chairs the Senate’s Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs Committtee.

Azzinaro, whose legislative district is some distance away form Bristol, nonetheless knows the regard in which McKenna is held in his hometown.

"He was special to the people of Bristol," Azzinaro said. "They fell so much in love with this guy."  

McKenna died when four Taliban insurgents blew up a truck bomb and breached the entrance to the Camp Integrity in a suicide attack, killing eight foreign security contractors who had been on guard.

McKenna and Master Sgt. George Vera grabbed their weapons, and were the first to engage the enemy. McKenna died after being hit by small-arms fire, according to military reports.

The conference room in the veterans' home is not the only way the people of Rhode Island have commemorated McKenna. Last year, a section of a state highway between Bristol and Warren, R.I. was named the 1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna Memorial Highway.

"He sacrificed his life doing exactly what he wanted to do ...  thank God for the people like Sgt. McKenna," Raimondo said at the ceremony renaming the section of highway, according to media reports.