RIVERHEAD, NY – On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 21, 2019, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) was joined by the United States Postal Service, PFC Langhorn Memorial Committee, local elected officials, local veterans and veterans’ organizations, and the family and friends of PFC Garfield Langhorn of Riverhead at the Private First Class Garfield M. Langhorn Post Office in Riverhead, New York, to honor his bravery, sacrifice, and service to his country following the 50th anniversary of his falling in the line of duty.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of his sacrifice, Congressman Zeldin announced the introduction of the PFC Garfield M. Langhorn Memorial Semipostal Stamp to Benefit our Veterans Act of 2019 to create a semipostal stamp in his honor. A semipostal stamp is a stamp sold at a premium price, which covers the cost of postage and donates the excess money to a nationally recognized cause. The excess money from the PFC Langhorn stamp would go to the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, a Department of Defense program, that offers assistance to very low-income veteran families who are in the process of transitioning to permanent housing. This program provides grants to private nonprofits that provide services to promote housing stability for veteran families.
On January 15, 1969, PFC Langhorn’s unit was returning from the attempted rescue of a downed American helicopter when North Vietnamese forces surrounded them. Under the cover of darkness, the North Vietnamese began to advance throwing a hand grenade in front of 20-year-old PFC Langhorn who was just a few feet from his injured comrades. PFC Langhorn unhesitatingly threw himself on the grenade, scooped it beneath his body and absorbed the blast, saving his fellow platoon mates.
For his sacrifice and service to our nation, PFC Langhorn received the Purple Heart and the highest and most prestigious personal military decoration – the Medal of Honor. PFC Langhorn is the only Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient from Suffolk County. Most recently, in 2010, the Riverhead Post Office was named in his honor.
Congressman Zeldin said, “It’s fitting that we honored PFC Langhorn on the day we remember the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who championed the rights of the downtrodden, and gave a voice to the voiceless, which ultimately cost him his life. In that similar vein of selflessness and in his final heroic act, PFC Garfield sacrificed his own life to save his fellow soldiers on Dr. King’s birthday – January 15, 1969, throwing himself on a live grenade to save his platoon mates. For his extraordinary act of bravery, PFC Langhorn received a series of awards, including the highest, most prestigious personal military decoration – the Medal of Honor, and, most recently, the Riverhead Post Office was dedicated in his name. There is no doubt, PFC Langhorn has earned these commendations, but they mean little if we forget to look beyond the decorations and forever remember and honor the actions of the 20-year-old young man who earned them.”
Suffolk County Veterans Services Director Thomas Ronayne said, “Suffolk County continues to be proud of the selfless and heroic actions of PFC Langhorn. I am honored to participate in recognizing the service and sacrifice of this great man and it is a privilege that he was a son of Suffolk County.”