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Riverhead honors Vietnam hero killed in war

Garfield Langhorn, a Medal of Honor recipient, is

Garfield Langhorn, a Medal of Honor recipient, is seen in a photo believed to be from 1969, when he died protecting fellow soldiers in Vietnam. Credit: Handout

Garfield Langhorn, who earned the Medal of Honor while fighting in Vietnam, grew up on Maple Avenue in downtown Riverhead.

The Riverhead post office was named in his honor by Congress a year ago, and last month, the library in his old high school was renamed for him as well.

But Tuesday, when the Riverhead Town board voted unanimously to change the name of Maple Avenue to Pfc. Garfield Langhorn Avenue, it ran into a small problem: GPS units in cars and trucks would have the wrong address.

So, the town board voted, 5-0, to honor him with a secondary name change, letting Maple Avenue remain Maple Avenue for GPS purposes, but putting up a second sign underneath it designating the street Pfc. Garfield Langhorn Avenue.

Langhorn was 20 in 1969, when his unit was assigned to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter while serving in the Pleiku Province. During an attack, Langhorn covered a grenade that was thrown near several wounded soldiers with his body, and was killed when it exploded.

He is the only Riverhead resident to earn the nation’s highest medal.

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