In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, the Times/Ledger newspaper presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history
Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan, Jr. was a United States Marine posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for selfless gallantry while serving in the Vietnam War.
Born in Brooklyn on Nov. 18, 1943, Corporal Noonan also lived in Maspeth and graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood in 1961. Following graduation from Hunter College in 1966, he voluntarily enlisted in the Marines and was sent to Vietnam. The Marine was killed in action on Feb. 5, 1969 at age 25 while bravely attempting to rescue wounded comrades pinned down by enemy fire.
Then Private Noonan completed recruit training at Parris Island in April 1968 and was soon promoted to Private First Class. Ordered to Vietnam in July 1968, the young Marine from New York first served on a mortar crew in the 1st Marine Division and later saw combat as a rifleman with the 3rd Marine Division. Noonan was promoted to lance corporal on Jan. 1, 1969. He was killed in action during Operation Dewey Canyon in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province. His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
“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, Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, in operations against the enemy in Quang Tri Province in the Republic of Vietnam. On February 5, 1969, Company G was directed to move from a position which they had been holding southeast of the Vandergrift Combat Base in A Shau Valley 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. Four men were wounded, and repeated attempts to recover them failed because of the intense hostile fire.
“Lance Corporal 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, Lance Corporal 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. Lance Corporal Noonan’s indomitable courage, inspiring initiative and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”
The L/CPL Thomas P. Noonan Jr. Playground and the Thomas P. Noonan Jr. VA Community Clinic, both in Sunnyside, commemorate his supreme sacrifice and his roots in Queens. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery and his name is inscribed on Panel 33W, Line 067 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.
For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit their website at www.astor