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John J Mckenna IV


As a child, John McKenna’s red hair, small body and elfin ears made him a target of more than a little teasing on Brooklyn’s East 2nd Street. Adults said he looked like a leprechaun and rubbed dollars on his forehead for good luck. Bigger boys once stuffed him in a trash can and rolled him down the block. The ribbing, though, didn’t chase the resilient kid indoors. He always kept coming back, recalled one of the confessed can-rollers, the Reverend Joseph Fonti, who eulogized his old friend Friday at the neighborhood church they attended as children.

John J. McKenna IV, who grew up to be a state police trooper and a Marine Corps captain, was killed Aug. 16 while on a foot patrol in Fallujah, Iraq. Hundreds of relatives, servicemen and fellow lawmen packed the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church for the memorial service.

His body arrived in a silver hearse that glided past a block-long line of Marines, police officers and troopers, led by a state police bagpipe and drum corps. An honor guard of Marines and troopers carried the casket inside. Amid the pageantry, Fonti offered an intimate reflection on McKenna’s life. Their families lived six houses apart, and he said he was overwhelmed that the kid he played soldier with as a boy had become a real-life platoon commander, who volunteered for a second tour in Iraq because he wanted to be with his men.

I pray that I can emulate his courage, Fonti said.

McKenna, 30, joined the Marines in 1998 after earning a history degree from Binghamton University. He was on active duty until 2003, when he became a reservist assigned to the 2nd Battalion 25th Marines Regiment, based in Albany. He served in Uzbekistan and had one previous tour in Iraq before his deployment to Fallujah in late March. His unit was scheduled to return home in October.

Relatives said he was killed by a sniper after rushing to the position of a fatally wounded member of his unit, Lance Corporal Michael D. Glover.

He was fearless, said McKenna’s uncle, retired New York police Lt. Robert McKenna. But he added that his nephew was better loved for his infectious smile. McKenna had been a state police trooper since 2005, and was most recently assigned to the Kingston barracks and lived in Clifton Park. He is to be buried at Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, 186 miles north of New York City.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among the mourners at the church on Friday and Governor George Pataki attended his wake earlier this week.

Glover, who lived in Garden City and was a full-time law student at Pace University before his deployment, was to be buried on Saturday.

McKenna is survived by his mother, Karen, his father, John, a sister, Allyson Zehrfuhs, and a niece, Michaela Zehrfuhs.


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