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Remembering NCO McNaughton

Hundreds gather annually to remember the life of fallen soldier, police office

For almost a decade, friends, family, Police Departments and the United States Army have been showing their support and gratitude for fallen hero, James D. McNaughton, a former U.S. soldier and NYPD officer, who was killed in Iraq in 2005. McNaughton’s best friend, Vinny Zecca, has been organizing a benefit concert and fundraising event at Mulcahy’s Music Hall in Wantagh for the past seven years. Both local performers and the New York Shields Pipes and Drums Band have requested each year to participate in McNaughton’s honor. Slide shows and poster boards displayed photographs of him from his childhood up to his time in the army, giving attendees a glimpse into the life of someone who sacrificed his life for his country. 

McNaughton’s former sergeants and command officers all agreed that they watched him grow from a shy, quiet NCO to an outspoken and responsible senior NCO after a mere two months. Retired Maj. Command Sgt. Mike Donohue said McNaughton always had the moral authority and respect of the other soldiers. “Jimmy was always out in the front, never hiding,” he said. The mission that led to his death was something for which McNaughton had no prior experience.” 

“He volunteered for the mission and even though he never had done a job like that before, he excelled,” said Donohue. 

Commanding Officer John Hussey, who worked with McNaughton for two years, described him as an old school soldier who lived the army values. “Jimmy was a true leader and took his tasks very seriously,” he said. 

McNaughton is an inspiration to many who had the opportunity of working closely with him. First Class Sgt. Patrick Venetek, a close friend and fellow soldier became an NYPD Officer because of him. “He was all business, all work,” Venetek said. “The reason who I am today is because of Jimmy.” 

Sergeant Catarino Rodriquez visits McNaughton at Calverton Cemetery twice a year and described him as someone who has a lasting impact on many soldiers who are currently serving. “Guys still bring their children to see Jimmy at the cemetery and some have even named their children after him,” Rodriguez said. 

All the money raised will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, to the Long Island 9-1-1 Veterans, to the James McNaugton Foundation and to victims of Hurricane Sandy.