2018-03-02 / Front Page

PFC. ROBERT MCKENNA

Community honors fallen MP
Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Military policemen conduct their duties at McKenna Gate during the late 1960s as shown in this archive U.S. Army Fort Gordon photo. 
U.S. Army archive photo Military policemen conduct their duties at McKenna Gate during the late 1960s as shown in this archive U.S. Army Fort Gordon photo. U.S. Army archive photo Members of the local military police community gathered at McKenna Gate Feb. 22 to pay tribute to a comrade on the anniversary of his death.

Private 1st Class Robert McKenna was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 22, 1966, while stationed at Fort Gordon. He had been working at the main gate guardhouse – where MPs were responsible for checking vehicles entering and exiting the installation – when he was approached by a vehicle with armed suspects from a robbery. As McKenna approached to stop the vehicle, one of the suspects shot and killed him.

Gate 1 was subsequently renamed McKenna Gate in May 1966. A plaque honoring McKenna now stands at the front of the guardhouse where he once stood guard.

And on the 52nd anniversary of his death, more than a dozen MPs – past and present – shared a prayer, moment of silence, memories, and fellowship in his honor.


A plaque in honor of Pfc. Robert McKenna, killed in the line of duty in February 1966, stands at the front of the guardhouse along the main entrance to Fort Gordon. 
Wilson A. Rivera / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office A plaque in honor of Pfc. Robert McKenna, killed in the line of duty in February 1966, stands at the front of the guardhouse along the main entrance to Fort Gordon. Wilson A. Rivera / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office “McKenna served at Gordon as a senior policeman with 104th MP Co. from Oct. 13, 1965, until his death,” said 1st Lt. Jade Messam, executive officer, 35th Military Police Detachment. “Since then, McKenna has been recognized for his sacrifice in various places.”

One such place is the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., in which McKenna was inducted on May 14, 2002.

Messam visited the memorial to take photographs and obtain a rubbing of McKenna’s name. A laminated copy of the rubbing was presented to Jack James, one of McKenna’s comrades.


McKenna McKenna James, of Augusta, graduated from the Military Police School at Fort Gordon in 1964, left for airborne training that same year, then returned to Fort Gordon in August 1965.

McKenna reported to the installation a couple months later.

“McKenna was an outstanding guy,” James said. “He was a good friend of mine when I met him.”

James doesn’t remember every detail of the day McKenna died, but he has many good memories of the two working together.

One story he likes to share was the time he and McKenna guarded the hospital room where then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed after suffering a heart attack at nearby Augusta National.

“He was proud to have MOS 951B military policeman,” James said. “He was a class A Soldier. I’m just honored to be here today.”

James had Michael Mulcahy to thank. Had it not been for Mulcahy, former Directorate of Emergency Services sergeant major (now retired), there is a chance McKenna Gate would still read Gate 1. Mulcahy initiated the rededication project and the sign was changed in 2015.


Addressing a gathering Feb. 22 at McKenna Gate, in memory of the gate’s namesake, is 1st Lt. Jade Messam, center, 35th Military Police Detachment. 
Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Addressing a gathering Feb. 22 at McKenna Gate, in memory of the gate’s namesake, is 1st Lt. Jade Messam, center, 35th Military Police Detachment. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Now a member of the Military Police Regimental Association, Mulcahy stays active in keeping McKenna’s memory alive by organizing annual ceremonies.

“The Military Police School originated here at Fort Gordon, and it’s important to maintain that history and heritage of the MP Corps,” Mulcahy said. “I want them to know that no matter how many years pass, somebody is always going to remember their service and their sacrifice.”

It is a sacrifice James said he will never forget.

“I think about him often and am reminded when I come through here,” James said.

Return to top