Thursday, September 21 , 2017, 11:26 am | A Few Clouds 71º

 
 
 
 

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Santa Barbara Post Office Building Renamed for Navy SEAL

Victoria Court office named in honor of Louis 'Lou' J. Langlais, who was killed in 2011 when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan

Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) and former Congresswoman Lois Capps unveil the plaque dedicated to Master Chief Petty Officer Louis Langlais. Click to view larger
Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) and former Congresswoman Lois Capps unveil the plaque dedicated to Master Chief Petty Officer Louis Langlais. (Shomik Mukherjee / Noozhawk photo)

A fallen United States Navy SEAL and Santa Barbara native was honored at a ceremony Thursday at the United States Postal Service office in Victoria Court, after legislation was passed to rename the facility in his honor.

The office at 1221 State St., Suite 12, will be renamed the Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis “Lou” J. Langlais Post Office Building.

Langlais was raised in Santa Barbara and served for 25 years in the U.S. Navy, 22 of them in special operations.

He led a troop in Navy SEAL Team Six, which famously carried out the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011.

Just a few months later, Langlais was killed when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011. He was 44 years old.

Congressman Salud Carbajal and former Congresswoman Lois Capps honored Langlais in Thursday's ceremony.

Capps authored the legislation in December to officially rename the office, and with Carbajal unveiled a plague dedicated to Langlais — adorned by an American flag — which will sit in the post office.

Langlais’ friend and fellow veteran, Master Chief Frank Matkins, recalled his knack for practical jokes, noting that Langlais once pretended to have fallen off a warship and screamed, “man overboard!”

Other soldiers apparently missed out on the prank, and moments later the ship was sounding its horn.

“We realized we’d just turned a U.S. Navy warship around — and there were probably going to be repercussions,” Matkins recalled. “But the beauty about Lou was that he was always the same person once you got to know him. He had just as much zeal for perfection in his pranks as he had zeal for perfection in his operational career and his life.”

The plaque will sit in the Victoria Court post office building. Click to view larger
The plaque will sit in the Victoria Court post office building. (Shomik Mukherjee / Noozhawk photo)

Matkins and Langlais hiked quite a bit in the backcountry of Santa Barbara County. Recently, Matkins made a lone trip up to a mountain where Langlais had taught him to rock climb.

He said it was there, sitting and thinking about his fallen fellow officer, that he received a call from Langlais’ sister, asking him to participate in the post office ceremony, as she couldn’t make it.

“I felt Lou standing right there next to me, and he was laughing: ‘yup, one more for you right there buddy, this is the ultimate prank,’” he said. “He’s a brother and a great friend who I will always love, and who somehow keeps pranking me, even from after the grave.”

Langlais received a host of honors over his decades-long carer, including five Bronze Stars for valor and a Purple Heart. He served as a Master Chief Petty Officer, the highest enlisted rate in the Navy.

At 44, Langlais was the oldest of the 17 SEALs who died when the Chinook helicopter was shot down in 2011. 

Langlais was born in Canada but grew up in Santa Barbara, where he attended Santa Barbara Middle School and Santa Barbara High School. When not in service, he lived in Virginia with his wife and two sons.

Capps quoted Langlais from videos he had sent to his wife before his death. Langlais had thanked his wife for her sacrifices and explained to his two sons that he was away so much because he was fighting a war he hoped would end — so they wouldn’t have to fight in it themselves.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces attend the renaming ceremony for the Victoria Court post office building along with Rep. Salud Carbajal and former Congresswoman Lois Capps. Click to view larger
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces attend the renaming ceremony for the Victoria Court post office building along with Rep. Salud Carbajal and former Congresswoman Lois Capps. (Shomik Mukherjee / Noozhawk photo)

“He said he hopes (his sons) will do something different, like medicine or law,” Capps said. “He said, ‘I know this sounds cool’ — referring to himself — ‘but I’d rather be home with you.’”

Carbajal, a Marine veteran, said he was happy to honor “a fellow veteran-in-arms who sacrificed himself for his country and paid the ultimate price.” 

“Everyone who dons a uniform knows that's a possible outcome,” Carbajal told Noozhawk. “He served honorably and courageously. It makes me proud that today we took a post office and dedicated it somebody who sacrificed so much for our country.”

Noozhawk intern Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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