May 22, 2009

Gillibrand Gets Commitment From U.S. Post Office that they Will Continue to Honor Fallen Hero From Washington Heights

USPS Assures Gillibrand That If Facility Dedicated to First Dominican Soldier Killed In Iraq Moves, New Facility Will Continue to Carry His Name

New York, NY - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced today that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has agreed to carry the dedication to local fallen hero Sergeant Riayan Tejeda to a new facility, if the Post Office on West 180th Street in Washington Heights currently dedicated in his honor is forced to close. According to the USPS the lease for the property on which the Sergeant Riayan A. Tejeda Post Office is located expires on July 31, 2009.  While the USPS has been working to negotiate an economically feasible lease with the landlord, no final determination has been made regarding the permanent status of the facility. Upon hearing of the closure plans, Senator Gillibrand immediately reached out to Sgt. Tejeda's family and contacted the USPS to ensure that Sgt. Tejeda's memory and heroic actions would continue to be properly honored.

In a letter last month to the USPS, Senator Gillibrand requested a formal explanation regarding the agency's closure plans, and asked that another facility in Washington Heights be renamed after Sgt. Tejeda if the current facility is closed. In a letter directly addressing Senator Gillibrand's concerns, the USPS responded, "You may be assured that should the Postal Service have to relocate the Post Office to another facility, the new facility will carry the dedication status in honor of Sergeant Tejeda, and the plaque bearing his name will be installed in its place of honor." The USPS also stated that if the need arises, mobile post office units would be situated on site, "for limited retail services, Post Office box service, and package pick up during the same hours as the present Post Office," while they pursue an alternate location.

"As Memorial Day approaches and we honor all of America's dedicated veterans and fallen soldiers, I am very pleased to announce the Post Office has assured me that if the facility dedicated to Sergeant Riayan Tejeda is forced to move, the new facility will continue to bear his name," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "Sergeant Tejeda made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and is a true hero. His continued recognition by the postal service is but a small gesture of our eternal gratitude for his brave actions and selfless service."


Legislation to rename the Post Office in honor of Sgt. Tejeda was authored by Congressman Charles B. Rangel and passed by the House in September 2004. Companion legislation which was passed in the Senate in October 2004 was introduced by (then) Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The facility, which is in Congressman Rangel's district, was rededicated as the Sergeant Riayan A. Tejeda Post Office in April 2005.

Sgt. Riayan Tejeda was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment and was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq during combat operations on April 11, 2003, at the age of 26. He was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions in the line of fire. Tejeda, a married father of two girls, joined the Marine Corps at the age of 18 after graduating from the Fashion Industries High School.