LINDENHURST - The widow of an Army sergeant who died of cancer after being exposed to toxic fumes during a deployment to the Middle East is out to raise awareness.
A benefit was held today in Lindenhurst to honor Sgt. Bill McKenna, who died of a rare form of cancer following his service in Iraq. McKenna's doctors believed he contracted T-cell lymphoma after being exposed to so-called "burn pits" while deployed.
The pits are used to destroy everything from medical waste to plastics in Iraq and Afghanistan, and jet fuel is used to ignite them.
McKenna's widow, Dina, says her husband would often mention the burn pits when he wrote home during his two deployments to the Middle East, one of which lasted six months and the other for a year. He said the horrible taste and smell of the pits would stay with him, and he would ask his family to send him candies and gum.
Today's benefit raised money for a foundation named in McKenna's honor. It was held at the Fireman's Pavilion Park in Lindenhurst. The benefit offed a barbecue, an open bar, an auction and music.
The Sgt. Bill McKenna Foundation offers a range of services to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.