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L/CPL Thomas P. Noonan Jr. Playground

L/Cpl. Thomas P. Noonan Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Thomas P. Noonan (1943-1969) was born in Brooklyn, and graduated from Hunter’s College with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education in 1966. On December 26, 1967 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and in July 1968, he was sent to the Republic of Vietnam, where he served as a mortarman with his battalion and later as a rifleman in the Third Marine Division. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on New Year’s Day, 1969.

On February 5, 1969, his company was ordered to change the position they had been holding near the Vandergrift Combat Base in A Sahau Valley. This change was made especially difficult by recent heavy rains; descent down the steep hillside proved treacherous and four leading men in the company were wounded by North Vietnamese soldiers concealed in the area. The other members of the company were unable to rescue the four wounded marines in the midst of heavy enemy fire.

Noonan left his position of relative safety and descended through the hazardous terrain. Protected by a rocky outcropping, Noonan shouted words of encouragement to the wounded men. Bracing himself, Noonan then made a dash towards the injured men and had started to drag the most seriously wounded one to safety when he was hit by enemy fire. Noonan picked himself up and continued to drag the soldier away, but was mortally wounded before he could carry his comrade to safety. His heroic actions in the face of harrowing danger so roused his fellow marines that they launched an assault on the enemy positions that forced the North Vietnamese soldiers to withdraw. Noonan was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with the bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Bounded by Greenpoint and 42nd Avenues and 47th and 43d Streets, this site was acquired December 18, 1936 as part of Thomson Hill Park, and named in Noonan’s honor on May 14, 1996. The playground recently underwent a $760,000 renovation funded by Council Member Walter L. McCaffrey. Completed in May 2000, the renovation brought the playground state-of-the-art modular play equipment, safety surfacing, a spray shower, a sitting area, new tree and shrub plantings, and a new fence with a one-inch-thick eagle medallion. A regent scholartree and a Christina Boifman elm tree have been added, and new shrubs, including winged euonymus, exbury azalea, common purple lilac, and hicks yews have also been planted.

Amid the surrounding trees and inherent tranquility of the park, Lt. Corporal Noonan Playground is a patriotic tribute to a brave young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

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