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Two legacies that shine on as Riverhead’s hometown heroes

They were born 39 years apart, two young men who grew up Riverhead and served their country during time of war.

The legacies of Pfc. Garfield Langhorn and Tech. Sgt. Dashan Briggs will forever be linked as two of Riverhead’s hometown heroes.

It was only fitting that family members of both service members were on hand Friday afternoon as Riverhead Town formally kicked off its Hometown Hero banner project throughout downtown.

The first banners began to go up Thursday and more will be unveiled in the coming weeks. Following speeches from town officials, the latest banners were formally unveiled in their prominent location at the corner of Main Street in Roanoke Avenue in front of Cucina 25. Members of the Langhorn family were first to pull back the black curtain to reveal the banner bearing Pfc. Garfield Langhorn’s name and photo.

Then the Briggs family, with 5-year-old Jayden leading the way, pulled back the curtain on their banner.

Pfc. Langhorn, who died in Vietnam at age 20 was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, and Tech. Sgt. Briggs, who was a member of the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, and died in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2018.

“The two banners that we unveil today will commemorate the heroism of two incredible [service members], two of our hometown heroes,” said Councilman Ken Rothwell, who helped see the project to completion after being appointed to the Town Board in January to replace Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead).

Mr. Rothwell said the project was nearly a year in the making and began at the request of the veterans advisory committee, led by Thomas and Keri Najdzion, which worked alongside Ms. Giglio.

“Together these three individuals worked so hard and started with just a vision and then an idea and after hours of work, phone calls, emails and countless meetings, they were able to build a path to success today,” Mr. Rothwell said.

Wedel Signs created the banners and donated the two that were unveiled Friday. The banners otherwise cost $225 for seasonal display.

The banners will remain up through June in honor of Memorial Day and then again from September through November to coincide with Veterans Day.

“Each time we travel down Main Street, we will be reminded of young men and women of Riverhead, many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our residents, our family, our town and our country,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said.

Tonya Marshall-Griffin, the niece of Pfc. Langhorn, thanked the town and everyone who participated in the project.

“I’m sure my grandparents Garfield and Mary Langhorn would really appreciate it,” she said. “On behalf of the family, we thank you.”