Wantagh fundraiser will honor the late James McNaughton


Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall will become a sea of blue on Jan. 27. Hundreds of members of the New York City Police Department, as well as Wantagh and Seaford residents, will pack the venue for the 13th annual tribute to James D. McNaughton, a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and an NYPD officer who died while serving in Iraq in 2005. The event, which will start at 1 p.m., will raise money for the James McNaughton Foundation and celebrate McNaughton’s life.

“For the past 12 years, along with the McNaughton family, we have held an extremely successful benefit honoring and remembering the life of James,” said Vinny Zecca, a close friend and the event coordinator.

Over 1,000 people are expected to attend the fundraiser. Proceeds will also benefit the Wounded Warriors Project and the Northport P.T.S.D. Veterans Association, among others causes.

“Jimmy” McNaughton, 27, was a staff sergeant in the Army Reserves’ 306th MP Battalion and a part of the 800th Military Police Brigade, based in Uniondale. He had served five years on active duty as a military police officer in the late 1990s, stationed in Fort Irwin, Calif., and Mannheim, Germany. He also completed tours in Bosnia and Kosovo. 

After he was discharged, McNaughton remained in the Army Reserves and joined the NYPD in July 2001, graduating with the so-called 9/11 Class that year. He spent most of his time patrolling the Transit Bureau in the Canal Street Subway station in Lower Manhattan.

McNaughton, who lived in Centereach, had family ties to the police force. His father is a retired NYPD officer, and his stepmother is a retired Transit Bureau officer. His former fiancée is an officer in the NYPD’s 9th Precinct.

In October 2004, McNaughton volunteered for re-deployment. After he completed two months of training in Fort Dix, N.J., the 306th Battalion, part of the 77th U.S. Army Regional Readiness Command, based in Fort Totten, Queens, was deployed to Iraq. He was stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison, and in June 2005 McNaughton volunteered to work with the Iraqi Highway Patrol. Two months later he was struck by sniper fire in a tower while training an Iraqi officer. 

According to the James McNaughton Foundation, he was the first NYPD officer to die while serving in Iraq. After his death, then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a written statement, “James McNaughton made our city safe as a police officer and gave his life defending our country.” Then Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that McNaughton “embodied the motto of the NYPD: Fidelis ad mortem — ‘Faithful until death.’” 

“Our goal of the event is to ensure that we keep Jimmy’s memory alive while honoring all of the fallen heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Zecca said. “We are raising awareness and support for veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness or wound due to their military service.

“This support,” he added, “speaks volumes about the entire community, the local Long Island and New York City police departments, the U.S. military, local businesses, 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. It’s also a true homage to the type of person that Jimmy was and how many lives he touched.”