The post office in Mastic will be renamed to honor Specialist Thomas J. Wilwerth, who was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 22, 2006. The bill would designate the facility Army Specialist Thomas J. Wilwerth Post Office Building. All 26 other representatives from New York cosponsored the bill.
“Tommy died so that his fellow Americans could live a better life,” said the Wilwerth family. “His deep-rooted sense of patriotism drove him to enlist in the aftermath of Sept. 11, and he would have been so proud of his sacrifice on behalf of our entire nation. To have his name and legacy displayed in the heart of the community he loved — the community he laid down his life for — will never bring him home, but it will ensure his memory and sacrifice live on in the hearts of those who call Long Island home.”
Wilwerth participated in the Junior ROTC program while at William Floyd High School and enlisted in the Army Reserves his junior year at just 17 years old. Deployed in December 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wilwerth and two other service members were killed when an explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle while on morning patrol near Balad, Iraq. He was 21.
“I wish there were more people who possessed such a profound sense of patriotism. Even fewer answer the call at just the age of 17, who sacrifice their entire lives and their entire future to serve in the U.S. military,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin. “Specialist Wilwerth was the best of who we are. He is the embodiment of what makes this country the greatest in the world — the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our exceptional nation. The willingness to lay down one’s life for his neighbors, for his community, but most courageously, for those Americans he never knew.”
In 2011, Zeldin introduced the Specialist Thomas Wilwerth Military Dignity Act to the New York State Senate, which would prohibit protests within 2,500 feet of military services, funerals and processions of deceased service members unless the organizers post a bond to the local municipality to offset the increased security costs associated with demonstrations that occur closer to these funeral activities. Protests would not be allowed at all within 500 feet of a service. The protestors will also have to apply for a permit with the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs. It was signed into law later that year.
“This is an extremely important bill for Congress to pass on behalf of PFC Thomas Wilwerth, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country but also for his community,” said Suffolk County Legis. Rudy Sunderman. “Naming the local post office on behalf of PFC Thomas Wilwerth will be in the hearts of the family, friends and community of a young man forever, but anytime a resident walks into the local post office they will know Thomas is looking down on our community.”
“Freedom is not free and Army Specialist Thomas J. Wilwerth paid for our freedom with his life,” said councilman Dan Panico. “We owe him and his family the greatest debt of gratitude, and Congressman Zeldin’s legislation will ensure that this sacrifice is not forgotten.”
The bill, H.R. 829, passed in the House of Representatives last Friday in a vote of 423-0, with eight representatives not voting. The post office is located at 1450 Montauk Highway in Mastic.
Caption: Fallen soldier Specialist Thomas J. Wilwerth will be honored with the renaming of his hometown post office building.