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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.

Bounded by Greenpoint and 42nd Avenues and 47th and 43rd Streets, this site was acquired December 18, 1936 as part of Thomson Hill Park, and named for war hero Thomas P. Noonan on May 14, 1996.

Noonan (1943-1969) was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Hunter 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 and later as a rifleman in the Third Marine Division.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal on New Year’s Day in 1969.

On February 5, 1969, Noonan’s 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 and a treacherous descent down the steep hillside. 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, he 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 two bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

The City renovated the playground in 2000, and installed state-of-the-art modular play equipment and a fence with an ornamental eagle medallion.  Funded by the Mayor and City Council, renovations completed in 2015 included brightly colored play equipment, seating, a rainbow spray shower, an upgrade to the basketball and handball courts and numerous infrastructure improvements.  An inscribed granite base was added to the playground's refurbished flagpole honoring L/CPL Thomas P. Noonan.

We also honor those servicemen from Sunnyside who gave their lives during the Vietnam War:

  • James Joseph Owens, U.S. Marine Corp. Killed in action April 21, 1967.
  • Donald Charles Breuer, U.S. Marine Corp. Killed in action June 11, 1969.
  • Thomas John Riley, U.S. Marine Corp. Killed in action June 11, 1969.
  • Edward Walter Corcoran, U.S. Army. Killed in action April 23, 1971.

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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