Medal of Honor

 

 

NOONAN, THOMAS P., JR. *

 

Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company G, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division

 

Place and date: Near Vandergrift Combat Base, A Shau Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 5 February 1969

 

Entered service at: Brooklyn, New York

 

Born: 18 November 1943, Brooklyn, New York

 

Citation:

 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a fire team leader with Company G, in operations against the enemy in Quang Tri Province. Company G was directed to move from a position which they had been holding southeast of the Vandergrift Combat Base to an alternate location. As the marines commenced a slow and difficult descent down the side of the hill made extremely slippery by the heavy rains, the leading element came under a heavy fire from a North Vietnamese Army unit occupying well concealed positions in the rocky terrain. 4 men were wounded, and repeated attempts to recover them failed because of the intense hostile fire. L/Cpl. Noonan moved from his position of relative security and, maneuvering down the treacherous slope to a location near the injured men, took cover behind some rocks. Shouting words of encouragement to the wounded men to restore their confidence, he dashed across the hazardous terrain and commenced dragging the most seriously wounded man away from the fire-swept area. Although wounded and knocked to the ground by an enemy round, L/Cpl. Noonan recovered rapidly and resumed dragging the man toward the marginal security of a rock. He was, however, mortally wounded before he could reach his destination. His heroic actions inspired his fellow marines to such aggressiveness that they initiated a spirited assault which forced the enemy soldiers to withdraw. L/Cpl. Noonan's indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


 


On 24 May 2006 Jack Stubbs <jstubbs48@msn.com> informed me that the Bronx VA Medical Center dedicated the Sunnyside Queens VA Clinic in honor of Thomas Noonan

In addition, during April 2006, Jack returned to Vietnam with 9 other Marines who served in Kilo Co., 3rd Bn, 1st Reg. Here is a picture taken in Hue. Jack is in the center wearing the bush hat.


On 28 October 2005 Brian Thomas Smith wrote: 

Uncle Tommy,

I'm a cousin of yours. I'm 24 and live in New Jersey. My grandmother-- your first-cousin Kathleen Smith--tells me that she used to babysit for you when she lived with her Aunt Florence (your mother) in Maspeth. I guess that makes us cousins too. My grandma later moved back to Hoboken, NJ--and my family has been there ever since. She attended your funeral, but without my father who was fighting in Vietnam at that time too--luckily he made it back alive. My grandma loves to talk about you and how proud our family is of you. I am always proud to say that I have a cousin that won the Medal of Honor. Anyway I just wanted to honor your presence and, although I never knew you, I know I would've been honored to know you.

Brian Thomas Smith


On 22 February 2003 fredtkilo37@attbi.com wrote:

Thought you would like to have this.We were in the same platoon in boot camp.He was like a big brother to me.As long as I live I will never forget him!


Jack Stubbs sent the following e-mail on 28 November 1996:

This message is in regard to L/Cpl Thomas Noonan, who received the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam Conflict. Tom was in my platoon during infantry training at Camp Geiger. We became friends because we had a few things in common. Tom had a degree in Physical Education from NYU and I had attended Cortland State as a Physical Education major. I knew Tom had been killed because I read it in the "Stars & Strips" and I first read about his being posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor about a year later in the "Leather Neck Magazine". I have a picture of Tom, Marty Peterman, and myself that was taken at Camp Geiger.

"The thing that really struck me when I read about Tom was that he told me he was not going to come home alive from Vietnam. Someday I have to go to the "Wall" to pay my respects to him and many other Marine friends.

Jack Stubbs was in Vietnam between 1968-69, and during his tour he served as a machine gunner with "K" Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He now resides in Albany, New York with his wife of 26 years. They have two children.

This photo of Thomas P. Noonan Jr., was taken during April, 1968 at Camp Geiger. Camp Geiger is located in Camp Lejuene, North Carolina . Thomas Noonan is on the left, Jack Stubbs is in the middle and Marty Peterman is on the right.

Go Here to view a contemporary newspaper article about Thomas P. Noonan's posthumous award of the Medal of Honor.

 


On 27 November 2000 I received the following e-mail message from Joe Bernstein:

I read your  remembrance section on Tommy Noonan and it took me back many tears.I was friends with Tommy at Hunter College in the Bronx.He was a top athlete-the best wrestler the school ever had.I last saw him just before Christmas 1966 when he was living on Webster Avenue across from Honig's Parkway department store.He told me then he was going to join the Marines.

The next I heard of him was when his death was listed in Stars and Stripes.I was in Vietnam with the USAF at the time.Much later I learned he had received the Medal of Honor.My name is Joe Bernstein.It appears one of the men he attempted to rescue was a Navy corpsman named Bruce Bernstein who was also KIA.(No relation).

I was not surprised -Tommy was a man who always seemed indestructible and for someone as tough as nails he also was a goodhearted person.You had to know him to appreciate this quality.I admired him a great deal. Now I have a 22 year old son named Tommy.Your website is a real labor of love-God bless you.


On 26 May 1997 I received the following e-mail message from Thomas Noonan's brother:

I wanted to thank you for putting this site up. Tommy is my brother and memorial day is not a very pleasant day for my family. It was very nice to accidentally stumble onto this site today. I'm glad to see that people remember the sacrifice Tommy and so many others made during the Vietnam war.

Last year a playground in our old neighborhood was named after Tommy. It's on 43rd Street and Greenpoint Avenue, in the boro of Queens, NYC.

Tommy played in that park all the time when he was a little kid. At the dedication I had the pleasure of talking with Bobby O'Malley, a boyhood classmate of Tommy's who was also awarded the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery earlier in the war. Ironically, Bobby's name is right below Tommy's on your alphabetical list.

Thank You,

Dan Noonan


22 August 2000. A note from Neil Mishalov, webmaster of this Medal of Honor web site:

It was after I received the above e-mail message from Dan Noonan, that I realized that while we were both young children, and for a short time, Tommy Noonan and I lived within 2 or 3 city blocks from each other.

In the late 1940's early 1950's, I also lived in the Sunnyside section of Queens Borough, New York City. I lived at 45-41 39th Place, the cross street being 45th Street; two blocks from Greenpoint Avenue.

In the early part of August 2000, I travelled to New York for the first time in 18 years.

Among other things, I visited my old Queens neighborhood, and took a short walk to the L/Cpl. Thomas P. Noonan Playground. The playground just received a major renovation ($760,000), and it looks beautiful. Children were frolicking on the playground equipment; and old men were sitting at tables, playing cards and talking about life.

I took the photographs at the playground on 13 August 2000.

 

The L/Cpl. Thomas P. Noonan Playground

Queens, New York City

 

 

 

 

 

Plaque, Located in the Playground, Commemorating Thomas P. Noonan

 

 

Transcription of the plaque:

L/Cpl. Thomas P. Noonan Playground

Thomas Hill 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 morterman with his battalion and later as a rifleman in the Third Marine Division. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on News Years 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 position 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.

Bounded by Greenpoint and 42nd Avenues and 47th and 43rd Streets, this site was acquired December 18, 1936 as part of Thompson 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-art modular play equipment, safety surfacing, a spray shower, new fencing, a sitting area, and new tree and shrub plantings, as well as a one-inch-thick eagle medallion rests in the fence and is visible from both sides. 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, L/Cpt Noonan Playground is a patriotic tribute to a brave young man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

 

City of New York • Rudolph W. Guiliani, Mayor

Parks & Recreation • Henry J. Stern, Commissioner

June 2000

 

 


The Tablet

Brooklyn, N. Y.

 

By Ed Wilkinson, May 26, 2001

We celebrate Memorial Day every year lest we forget the sacrifices made by those who have died in service to our country and also by their families.

In Queens, there are two memorials to two local men, both recipients of the U.S. Medal of Honor, who paid the ultimate price in Vietnam.

At St. John's Cemetery, Middle Village, the flagpole near the main entrance off Metropolitan Ave. and 80th St. is dedicated in honor of Medal of Honor winner Pfc. Louis E. Willett. His remains are buried in the area across the road in Sect. 37.

Willett, who grew up in St. Benedict Joseph Labre parish, Richmond Hill, and attended the parish school and Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, lost his life on Feb. 15, 1967 in Kontum Province, Vietnam.

He was a rifleman with Company C which engaged the Viet Cong while on a security sweep. His squad was pinned down by heavy automatic weapons fire. Despite a deadly fusillade, Willett rose to his feet firing rapid bursts and moving to a positon from which he could place effective fire upon the foe.

His action allowed the rest of the squad to begin to withdraw. Willett covered the withdrawal but his position drew heavy machinegun fire and he received multiple wounds as the squad was once again trapped.

Willett, in heroic disregard of his painful wounds, struggled to an upright stance and again engaged the enemy with his rifle so that his squad could continue and several of his wounded comrades could be evacuated. He engaged in close range battle until he fell from mortal wounds.

Because of his unslefish actions, many of Willett's fellow soldiers were saved that day. For that, he was posthumously awarded the nation's Medal of Honor.

Andy Matura, a classmate of Willett at Molloy, recalled that "Lou was an 80s student but whenever he took a scholarship test (not based on how hard you studied but on how well your mind works) he won something."

Recalling that Wuillett played football with the Lyn Vets League in Queens, Matura said, "He was a big guy... Never once saw him bully anybody or throw his weight around, except in the field, of course."

Matura, who survived his tour of Vietnam, said he didn't know his classmate had fallen until he returned home and heard the news.

"It meant a lot to me to see his commednation" as a Medal of Honor winner, he said.

At his burial site, the name of Louis Willett is inconspicuously located in the bottom right hand corner of a stone bearing the name " ." Presumably it's a family plot.

Not too far away in Sunnyside, there's a city playground named for a fallen Medal of Honor Marine, Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan, Jr., who was killed Feb. 5, 1969 in the A Shau Valley.

As his fire team began a sharp desecnt down a slippery slope made more treacherous by heavy rains, Noonan's squad came under heavy fire from the North Vietnamese, who were well concealed in the rocky terrain. When four of his men were pinned down by enemy fire, Noonan left his relatively safe spot, maneveured down the slope near those trapped and shouted words of encouragement. He then dashed across the terrain and began dragging the most seriosuly wounded from the fire-swept area. Wounded and knocked to the ground, he regained his step and continued to carry a buddy. He was, however, mortally wounded before he could reach safety. His heroic actions inspired his team who began a spirited asssault upon the enemy, forcing them to withdraw.

We can enjoy life today in a free society because what men like Louis Willett and Dan Noonan did in a faraway place at a time not too long ago. May they rest in peace. May their names never be forgotten.

 


This message was received on 9 November 2001:

Today I attended the re-dedication of the NYC Vietnam Veterans Plaza Park at downtown Water St., NYC. I was honored to accompany Tom's mother & sister there, as this site memorializes the 1741 men from NYC that perished in the service of our beloved country in Vietnam. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of all veterans. God Bless all vets & the USA.

Thanks,

Jack Lincks


--- General / Personal ---

 

Last name: NOONAN

First name: THOMAS PATRICK JR

Home of Record (official): MASPETH

State (official): NY

Date of Birth: Thursday, November 18, 1943

Sex: Male

Race: Caucasian

Marital Status: Single

 

--- Military ---

 

Branch: Marine Corps

Rank: LCPL

Serial Number: 2292900

Component: Regular

Pay grade: E3

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty code): 0351

 

--- Action ---

 

Start of Tour: Saturday, July 27, 1968

Date of Casualty: Wednesday, February 5, 1969

Age at time of loss: 25

Casualty type: (A1) Hostile, died

Reason: Gun, small arms fire (Ground casualty)

Country: South VietNam

Province: Quang Tri

The Wall: Panel 33W - Row 067

 


 

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Go to: Louis Willett Citation page

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