Downtown Riverhead block named for Medal of Honor recipient

11/11/2011 12:11 PM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The corner of Maple Avenue/Pfc. Garfield Langhorn Avenue and East Main Street in downtown Riverhead.

Maple Avenue in downtown Riverhead will now also be known as “Pfc. Garfield Langhorn Avenue.”

The Riverhead Town Board approved the measure a few weeks ago, and installed the sign Friday morning in a Veterans Day ceremony attended by Pfc. Langhorn’s mother, Mary, as well as other relatives, Riverhead Town Board members and members of the Suffolk Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Pfc. Langhorn is Riverhead’s only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, the nation’s highest military honor, which he received posthumously after he threw himself on a live grenade on Jan. 15, 1969 in Vietnam, giving his own life but saving the lives of other nearby soldiers in the process.

Maple Avenue was named after Pfc. Langhorn because it’s the street he grew up on.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Ms. Langhorn said Friday from the ceremony.

The house in which she and her husband raised their son, near Maple Avenue and Northville Turnpike, was torn down years ago and is now   a sump.

In the last two years, the Riverhead Post Office and the library at the Pulaski Street School, which was the high school when Pfc. Langhorn attended in the 1960s, also have been named for Pfc. Langhorn.

There has been a bronze bust in his honor outside Riverhead Town Hall for many years.

“It’s long overdue and I’m glad it’s happened and that Ms. Langhorn is here to see it,” said Clarence Simpson, the vice president of the Suffolk chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, after the ceremony. “We’re very big supporters of the Langhorn family.”

“And how many people get to say ‘I know someone that has such strong character that she raises a son that gives his life for his comrades and his country?” asked Bob Elrose, a member of the veterans group.

“There’s no greater sacrifice than to lay your life down for your brother,” said another member, Ralph Zanchelli.

“I think that, for Garfield Langhorn, we had to do this ,” said Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy, who sponsored the Town Board resolution to name the street for Pfc. Langhorn.

“He gave his life for this country and to save other soldiers,” Mr. Dunleavy continued. “He deserves all the respect, and all the places named after him, such as the post office and the Pulaski Street library and now this. I think this is the only thing we can do for him right now, and it’s about time, because the Vietnam War was a long time ago.”

[email protected]