“One thing I always remember about Briggs is that he was totally one-of-a-kind,” Jordan Harden said Saturday at a ceremony for his friend, Techical Sergeant Dashan Briggs, the Riverhead native who died in a March 15 helicopter crash in Iraq while serving as a member of the 106th Rescue Wing at Francis S. Gabreski airbase in Westhampton Beach.
“He was the first person our age who started driving,” Mr. Harden said. “One day he showed up at my house with a nice Cadillac that his uncle let him drive and I said, ‘How did they let you drive this car? He said, ‘That’s what happens when you’re responsible.'”
Mr. Harden said his friend was always looking to better himself and always strived for excellence.
“When Briggs wanted something, he went out and got it,” Mr. Harden said.
He said Dashan wanted a higher purpose in life, and found that when he joined the Air Force.
On Saturday, Riverhead Town officials held a ceremony attended by close to 100 people to ceremonially name Lewis Street, where Tech. Sgt. Briggs grew up, as “Tech Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs Way.”
Tech. Sgt. Briggs’ grandfather Eli, who raised him with his wife Rose, was present at the ceremony, as was Tech. Sgt. Briggs’ widow, Rebecca, and their small children, Jayden and Ava.
“I’ll always appreciate and thank Riverhead Town for what they have done,” Eli Briggs said.
Eli Briggs, 81, said he has lived in Riverhead for 62 years, said he will never forget Riverhead police, and the people in town who reached out to help him following his grandson’s death.
“I guess that’s why I chose to live here,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for what you’ve done, and what you continue to do.”
He said town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith “reached out” and didn’t hesitate to get the street renamed.
(It will also still be Lewis Street, as well, so the additional name won’t affect people’s addresses. The town has done likewise for other local heroes like Medal of Honor recipient Garfield Langhorn and Wading River firefighter Tom Lateulere.)
“When one person serves, their entire family serves,” Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said. “And as you can see here today, their entire community serves. This is a very patriotic community.”
Mr. Zeldin said that when Tech. Sgt. Briggs’ funeral and burial were held back in March, “The streets were lined up, shoulder to shoulder.”
Of the street naming, he said, “This is a very classy and important decision made by the Riverhead Town Board, to recognize permanently this street in honor of Dashan.”
“Dashan was more than a soldier,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. “He was a father, a husband, a son, a grandson, a cousin, a friend and a neighbor. And all those who love him and knew him and everyone who drives down the street who sees his name on the sign, will be keeping his spirit alive.”
Photo caption: The Color Guard presents flags to Tech. Sgt. Dashan Briggs’ widow, Rebecca, and grandfather, Eli, in background. (Tim Gannon photo)