Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Army Staff Sgt. James D. McNaughton

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. James D. McNaughton, 27, of Middle Village, New York.

SSG McNaughton died in Baghdad, Iraq, when he was struck by sniper fire while he was in a guard tower. He was assigned to the Army Reserve's 306th Military Police Battalion, 800th Military Police Brigade, Uniondale, New York.

The New York City police officer serving in the Army Reserve was shot and killed by a sniper while guarding prisoners at a camp in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. James McNaughton, 27, is the first member of the force to be killed in action in Iraq, the police department said. He died at Camp Victory, outside Baghdad.

McNaughton joined the New York Police Department in July 2001 and was assigned to its transit bureau, which patrols city subways.

Police work was the family business. His father is a retired New York police officer. His stepmother is an officer in the transit bureau. He was engaged to be married to an officer in the 9th Precinct.

McNaughton, whose family lived in Centereach, on Long Island, deployed to Iraq with the 306th Military Police Battalion, 77th U.S. Army Regional Readiness Command, based at Fort Totten, in Queens.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a written statement announcing the death, “James McNaughton made our city safe as a police officer and gave his life defending our country.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said McNaughton “embodied the motto of the NYPD: Fidelis ad Mortem, faithful until death.”

McNaughton is one of 273 members of the police department on active duty.

Police Officer Brian Kenny, who worked with McNaughton protecting lower Manhattan’s transit systems after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, called him a “squared-away guy” who looked young for his age but displayed a rock-steady professionalism.

“He was a military person,” Kenny said. “If your assignment that night was to work with Jimmy, you couldn’t get a much better assignment. You knew you were going to have fun and you knew the job was going to get done right.”

McNaughton served one tour of duty in the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, returned to the police department, then left for a second deployment overseas, Kenny said.

A state law passed this year will ensure that McNaughton’s family will receive a full pension and death benefits, as if he had died while wearing his police uniform.

"His love of the military was definitely fueled by his love of the American way of life, and by 9/11," said Officer Brian Kenny, the union delegate for Transit District 2. "When he spoke about going over there, someone said, 'It's the most dangerous place in the world right now.'

"That didn't bother him. He said, 'That's where I'm going."'

Talk of his son brought him back to the day, some 10 years ago, when he grounded James for breaking curfew, only to learn later that the punishment was unjust. James had insisted on driving friends home who had been drinking at a party.

"And that's the kind of person he was," the father said. "He was good, he was solid, and he took his punishment -- which obviously was undeserved -- without a whimper."

Stepmother, Michele, meanwhile, had been concerned about him since the very moment James graduated from Centereach High School in 1996 and announced his plans to join the Army.

"I was worried exactly about what happened -- he could be killed," Michele, said tearfully. "But to James' credit, he did not laugh or blow me off. He listened politely and did not argue.

"But he already had made up his mind, and once I realized that, I supported him fully."

Army Staff Sgt. James D. McNaughton was killed in action on 08/02/05.

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