McKenna Triangle

Major James A. McKenna (1885-1918) of the165th Regiment, 83rd Brigade, third "Shamrock" Battalion, of the Rainbow Division (42nd Infantry Division).

James Augustine McKenna Jr. was born in Long Island City, Queens, in 1885. He attended local schools and went on to study at Harvard and Cornell, where he was a star athlete. After graduating from law school at Fordham in 1916, he joined the 7th Regiment and fought in the Mexican Border War (1910–1919). In 1917, he was transferred to the 69th Regiment and was promoted to Lieutenant. McKenna commanded the 1st Troop ship of his infantry while crossing into France. In October of that year, he and his compatriots arrived in France, where he was promoted to Major. 

In July 1918, McKenna led his battalion across the Ourcq River in France near Villeneuve-sur-Fere, in the Second Battle of the Marne (July-August 1918). His battalion was the only one to successfully cross the river, but McKenna was killed by a stray piece of shrapnel the following day. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery.


“Major James Augustin McKenna Jr.,”, accessed September 12, 2023,

“Shell Shock Kills Major,” The New York Times, August 10, 1918,

“James A. McKenna,” Hall of Valor: The Military Medals Database, accessed September 12, 2023,