Riverhead Town Board members are hoping to name Maple Avenue in downtown Riverhead in honor of Garfield Langhorn, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner from Riverhead who gave his life to save other soldiers during the Vietnam War.
“He grew up in Riverhead on Maple Avenue, and I’d like to dedicate that street in his honor,” Councilman John Dunleavy said at last Thursday’s Town Board work session, where he made the suggestion.
“Absolutely,” said Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.
“It’s amazing we hadn’t done that earlier,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. “I don’t think there’s any argument.”
Garfield Langhorn remains the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from Riverhead. On Jan. 15, 1969, Pfc. Langhorn, who was 29 at the time, threw himself on a live grenade in Vietnam, absorbing the blast himself and, in the process, saving the lives of several other soldiers.
For his actions, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously on April 7, 1970.
His mother, Mary Langhorn of Riverhead, said she has no objection to the proposal.
“I appreciate everything anybody has done to keep his memory alive,” she said Tuesday.
The Riverhead post office was renamed in Garfield Langhorn’s honor last year, and students at Pulaski Street Elementary School have been holding an annual Garfield Langhorn essay contest for the past six years.
Ms. Langhorn said she first heard of the Maple Avenue proposal from Kevin Murphy of Jamesport, who is a Patriot Guard motorcycle rider and who participates in the annual Run for the Wall bike ride across the country to recognize the contributions of veterans.
Mr. Murphy told The News-Review that he suggested naming Maple Avenue for Garfield Langhorn to town officials a few weeks ago. He said he got the idea on the Run for the Wall, during a stop at the Vietnam Memorial in Angel Fire, NM, where there is a monument for Garfield Langhorn. Mr. Murphy said several other veterans locally who died in action have had roads or bridges named in their honor, and he felt the same should be afforded to Mr. Langhorn.
The Maple Avenue plan is calls for two street signs, so that Maple Avenue will also still be known by that name and residents won’t have to change their addresses. But a sign honoring Garfield Langhorn will be added to the sign post, Mr. Dunleavy said.
“It will be like they did with Reeves Park,” he said, referring to Park Road in that neighborhood, which was dedicated in honor of Thomas Kelly, a New York City firefighter from Reeves Park who died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.
That street still has the Park Road sign, but also has a Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive sign under it.
With no apparent opposition to renaming Maple Avenue for Garfield Langhorn, Town Board members said they are now researching what steps need to be taken to make the move official.