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Annual McNaughton Tribute In Wantagh Jan. 22

Next month, on Jan. 22, 2011, Mulcahy’s Pub and Music Hall in Wantagh will play host to the 5th annual tribute to James D. McNaughton, the Centereach native who in 2005, was the first New York City police officer to die while serving in Iraq.

The event will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. and will include a $20 cover charge. The evening will feature prizes, giveaways, music, drink specials, and free food. Big Shot, the longtime Billy Joel tribute band will also make an appearance.

But mostly, the evening is a tribute to McNaughton, a Long Islander who came from a family of New York City Police Department officers. McNaughton, whose father was stationed at West Point as a cook when the former was born in 1978, joined the Army as an 18-year-old in 1996. After being honorably discharged in 2001, he joined the Army Reserves. McNaughton joined the NYPD in 2002 as a member of the first Police Academy class to graduate after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. McNaughton first reported for duty in the U.S. Army in October 2002. In 2004, he volunteered for duty in Iraq and the next year on Aug. 2, 2005, McNaughton died while on a training mission with an Iraqi officer. At the time, he was a Staff Sergeant with the Army Reserve’s 306th Military Police Battalion, based out of Uniondale.

The annual event has become a Long Island fixture, with numerous dignitaries, entertainers, professional athletes, plus USO members and the New York Shields Pipes and Drums Band all attending. The list includes current Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Among the organizers is McNaughton’s longtime friend, Vinny Zecca.

“The tremendous amount of success that this event has had has been truly overwhelming to Jimmy’s family,” Zecca said in a statement. “The success could not have been achieved without the incredible amount of support that we have received from the entire community, including the local and city Police Departments, local businesses, the United States Army, and all of the performers that have generously come down and entertained all of the troops, members of numerous law enforcement agencies, and Jimmy’s family and friends in attendance.

“This year will mark the 6th anniversary of Jimmy’s passing,” Zecca continued. “So we are hoping to make this year’s event special and bigger than what we have done in previous years. In a lot of cases as time goes by more and more people tend to forget. This is something we are trying to prevent. We want to keep Jimmy’s memory alive and with the amount of people attending this event increasing each year, I think it’s a true homage to the type of person Jimmy was and how many lives he touched.”

Zecca said that proceeds from the event will go toward two charities, The Wounded Warrior Project and The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The Intrepid Fund has raised more than $65 million in support for the families of military personnel lost in service and for severely wounded military personnel and veterans.

The 2010 event raised more than $30,000, a number that this year’s organizers hope to surpass.

Mulcahy’s is located at 3232 Railroad Ave. in Wantagh. For more information, call 631-745-3813 or visit www.jimmy mcnaughton.com.