SSG James McNaughton is shown in this undated photo which...

SSG James McNaughton is shown in this undated photo which was displayed at the 13th annual remembrance of McNaughton, who was killed in action by sniper fire in Iraq in 2005. The event took place at Mulcahy’'s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 27, 2018. Credit: McNaughton Family photo

Saturday marks the return of an annual fundraiser memorializing a Centereach native — the first NYPD cop killed in combat during the Iraq War.

The fundraiser — coming 18 years since a sniper in Baghdad mortally shot that officer, 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James D. McNaughton, on Aug. 2, 2005 — had been suspended for 2021 and 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic; the 2020 fundraiser was held just before the pandemic began.

Now, it’s back, as in past years, at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall, 3232 Railroad Ave., Wantagh, from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

And this year, a video tribute will be shown to memorialize other military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Michele McNaughton, James McNaughton’s mother. He would have been 45 this year.

“It’s just a little video montage of these men that gave their life,” she said. "Our son wasn’t the only one that was killed.”

Proceeds from the fundraiser go to the PTSD Veterans Association of Northport Inc., the James McNaughton Foundation and other local charities, according to a news release about the event. Funds raised also go to scholarships for local students, Michele McNaughton said.

Both she and her husband, William, are retired NYPD officers. Their son was in the first Police Academy class to graduate after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was a staff sergeant in the Army Reserves and a police officer with the NYPD’s Transit Bureau. His duties in Iraq included training Iraqis to become police officers.

Hundreds attend every year, and the fundraiser has grown since McNaughton’s death, said Eric Wiggins, McNaughton’s childhood friend and one of the fundraiser’s organizers.

Twenty dollars gets attendees in the door — an all-day event of free food, drink specials and musical performances, plus raffles for such prizes as sports tickets and memorabilia, donated by teams across the region. Tickets for prizes cost extra, and the money goes to charity.

The 15th fundraiser — the last before the pandemic-era suspensions — brought in an estimated $25,000 to $30,000, Wiggins said.

Rick Cappiello, a manager of the venue, said the fundraiser for James D. McNaughton is one of the biggest events the pub does all year.

“Spider-Man, Batman -- they’re not heroes. Jimmy McNaughton is a real American hero,” he said Thursday evening.

Among the beneficiaries from what’s raised: scholarships to local students at Centereach High School who want to pursue law enforcement jobs or the military, Michele McNaughton said.

“Basically, they just need to have a C or better average, or B,” Michele said, adding: “That’s how Jimmy was. Jimmy passed everything. Was it all A’s? Not always. But he was your all-around, average kid, and that’s what we look for in the scholarship.”

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