Purple Heart Medal

Sam Stahlman is a highly decorated World War II veteran who has served the Patchogue-Medford community for an astonishing seven decades. 

Since the 1950’s, Sam has donated his time, service, good will and colorful personality to practicality every facet of community life: the Board of Education, Temple Beth:El and other religious organizations, various civil rights and service groups., the Chamber of Commerce and the Suffolk Planning Commission to name a few. 

In the mid 1980s, when Sam and Renee’s two children were grown, Sam began attending daily practices of the P-M Varsity Football team as a volunteer assistant, filling water bottles, monitoring drills, and providing extra eyes and ears for the coaches. Soon he was taking personal care of less fortunate players: counseling, consoling, encouraging, and befriending them — even digging into his own pockets to buy them equipment they could not afford, and feed them when they were hungry. For the next 30 years—a span of unprecedented excellence that included several league championships, three Suffolk County titles and a long island championships – Sam rarely missed a practice or game. And he didn’t just work with football players; he was also a favorite substitute teacher and visitor to classrooms across the District sharing stories and teaching life lessons for students who would invariably fall silent, except for their excited breaths as they sat riveted by Sam’s tales.

Born in 1925 and growing up in Manhattan, Sam joined the Army Infantry in 1943, at age 17. On June 6, 1944, D-Day, he was one of the 24,000 allied troops who landed at Normandy Beach under relentless and murderous enemy fire. Fighting across France, Sam was twice wounded by gunshots—eaming Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star-each time hastening his recovery so he could return to action. 

The rich and colorful life experiences that Sam loved to share with Pat Med students took a tragic terrible turn on September 11, 2001. That morning, Sam’s son, Eric, then 43, was at his job on the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the planes hit. Eric was one of the 2,996 souls who perished that day, leaving his wife and two young children. But living through such a painful experience become Part of Sam’s teaching to the great benefit of the PM students who were fortunate to have him as a mentor, as well as his friends and family: wife Renee, daughter Kathy; daughter-in-law Bianca and grandchildren Ben, Allison, and Jacob,