Local vet honoring fallen Bristol soldier

By News Staff

Reporting by Liz Tufts


As Rhode Island gets ready to day goodbye to a fallen hero this weekend, a local war veteran is doing his part to show Master Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna's family how thankful he is.

McKenna was killed in Afghanistan on Friday, now, one man is rounding up hundreds of people across the state to line the motorcade that will be bringing his body back home to his final resting place.

When Mark Thibodeau heard of the passing of Master Sgt. McKenna, of Bristol, the news hit too close to home. Thibodeau served in the Army in the first Gulf War as well as serving in Afghanistan from 2001-2007 in the Air Force.

He decided to turn to social media as an outlet to help support Sgt. McKenna's family, creating a Facebook page called, "Welcome Fallen Hero," asking friends, family, and strangers to come together and line the motorcade route from Quonset to Bristol.

"It was an idea, being a veteran myself… a way to give back and help out. To show support and let the family know they are not alone," said Thibodeau.

The feedback on his page was overwhelming, with over 3,000 invited and 300 attending. Thibodeau is getting responses from people all over the state wanting to be there, including a message from Alison Keirnan, who hasn't seen her son Christopher in more than three years.

"It's an awful thing to lose a child, I just can't even imagine it, I just cant," she says, wearing her son's dog tags and flying the American flag in her Cranston yard every day that he's in Afghanistan.

She flies the flag for every military member fighting for the country, including Sgt. McKenna. "I hope she knows how proud we are of her son and that's why we need to be there, it's the right thing to do," says Keirnan.

The exact route has not yet been announced, but Thibodeau says he will be updating his Facebook page when he finds out.

The wake for Sgt. McKenna will be held Sunday at St. Mary's of the Bay in Warren from 3-8 p.m. The funeral mass will be held Monday, also at St. Mary's of the Bay at 11 a.m. McKenna will be laid to rest at St. Mary's Cemetery in Bristol.

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