This playground honors Captain Manuel Rivera, Jr. (1959-1991), a South Bronx native and one of the first casualties of the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991). Rivera grew up in the nearby John Adams Houses in Melrose. From a young age, his goal was to become a pilot. By age 26, the ambitious young man had finished flight training, ascending the ranks of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Rivera died in action on January 22, 1991, when his Harrier jet crashed during a training run over the Gulf. Hundreds of South Bronx residents gathered at St. Anselm’s Church to mourn the death of a local hero and community leader, the first New Yorker lost in the Persian Gulf.