Sergeant Major Daniel F. Heffernan

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Daniel Heffernan wasn`t a poet a freedom fighter a politician or a great Kerry footballer, but he was still a great kerryman. He left the County he loved because there was nothing there for him, no work and no future.

A county and Country ruled by a foreign power with no hope of improvement. So he said farewell to his mother and father and stepped onto a ship and took the dangerous journey into the unknown.

This is his sons account of his father's experiences serving in World War I.


In 1912, Daniel Heffernan came to Cambridge, Massachusetts from Milltown, County Kerry, Ireland. He opened two small stores in Cambridge. One being an ice cream store and the other a general store. 

He then joined the U.S. Army at the beginning of Word War I. He fought in numerous battles in Europe. Daniel then received battle field promotions from Private Sergeant Major. 

He was wounded in battles several times, thus had the high honour of receiving 3 Purple Hearts! During one of those battles, the enemy used mustard gas. Sergeant Major Heffernan suffered the extremely harmful effects of that for the rest of his life. 

After the war he came home and married Mary Malley of Cambridge, Massachusetts. They raised two sons and one  daughter, Daniel junior, Francis Xavier, and June.

During the 1920’s, they opened the Garrison Lunch Restaurant in Cambridge Square. He also bought and developed property on which he built homes. 

The veterans who served in World War I were promised a pension from the U.S. Government; it never happened! So a group of them went to Washington D.C. and met on the grounds of the White House. President Roosevelt sent two generals out on horseback to disperse the crowd of veterans. Some years later, their pensions finally came through. 

As we prepare to honour our veterans of all wars, it’s time to remember, and it’s good to remember, our true heroes and the  price they have paid for our freedom. God Bless America. 

Deacon Francis X. Heffernan (retired from the Immaculate Conception Church in Stoughton) is the son of Sergeant Major Daniel F. Heffernan

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