Liotti Ikefugi Playground
This playground honors the memory Sergeant Carmine Liotti (1924-1945) and Private First Class Lloyd Ikefugi (1923-1945), two young men from Staten Island who died fighting for their country in World War II.
Carmine Liotti, born December 13, 1924, lived in New Brighton at 18 Ely Street and attended P.S. 17 on Harvard Avenue. At McKee High School he played football, and the Journal of American Football listed him as an all-star player. Liotti joined the army immediately after high school and became a medic in 319th Infantry. By April 15, 1945, Liotti’s unit advanced to the town of Glauchau, in the Saxony region of Germany. While Liotti attended to wounded men on the battlefield and prepared them for transport to the hospital in town, a German nurse called upon him to help evacuate an injured German as well. Lifting the German onto his litter jeep, Liotti proceeded up the main street of the town. An enemy soldier, perhaps unaware that a German lay in the vehicle, threw a grenade at the jeep, and shrapnel inflicted Liotti with mortal wounds. He lived just long enough for a priest to administer last rights.
Lloyd Ikefugi, born and raised on Staten Island, lived at 112 Winter Avenue in New Brighton and graduated from Curtis High School. He worked as a machinist at the Great Eastern Brass Works in Long Island City, worshiped at Brighton Heights Reformed Church, served as assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 10, and, in April 1944, he joined the Army at age 20. Ikefugi became a member of the famous all Japanese-American 442nd Infantry, a company distinct by its very definition. At the time, the United States military maintained a policy of segregation that required minorities, including Japanese-Americans and African-Americans, to fight in special units.
The 442nd Infantry earned recognition in history by demonstrating extraordinary bravery on the battlefield, in defiance of the stereotype that Japanese-Americans could not be loyal to an America at war with Japan. In the spring of 1945, the Allies began breaking through German defenses in Italy, and Ikefugi’s outfit proved an important part of that effort. On April 7, 1945, less than a year after he joined the Army, Ikefugi was attacking an enemy strongpoint and was struck down by machinegun fire. He died instantly and posthumously received the Purple Heart.
The City acquired this land in 1909 and constructed a reservoir that served the area through the 1930s. In 1935, Parks acquired the property, filled in the reservoir with dirt to create a temporary playing field, and later constructed a playground. The playground, like the avenue that borders it, was originally named for William Winter (1836-1917), a Staten Island writer, poet, and journalist who served as the dramatic reviewer for the New York Tribune. On June 27, 1961, the City Council passed local law 61, changing the name to Carmine Liotti-Lloyd Ikefugi Playground.
In recent years, over $105,000 has been spent for improvements on this playground. Borough President Guy V. Molinari allocated $31,895 to improve sidewalks and paths, and Mayor Giuliani designated a total of $73,634 from 1997 to 1999 on three projects, including new safety surfacing, fencing, and guide rails. The playground also contains kindergarten swings, play equipment, benches, a basketball court with bleachers, mature Sweetgum (Liguidambar styraciflua) trees, and a flagpole with a yardarm.