Jim Breuer and Noreen Haddad were never able to say goodbye to their brother, lay flowers on a casket or visit him in a cemetery. Sunnyside resident Donald C. Breuer was 26 years old when he was killed in action in 1972 during the Vietnam War and his body was never recovered.
Now, after 42 years, Breuer will live on in the neighborhood he called home and in a park he and his siblings visited at a young age.
Breuer’s name, which is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., will now become part of a list of veterans from Sunnyside and Woodside that is being engraved on a commemorative plaque at L. CPL Thomas P. Noonan Playground.
“This was our Central Park, this was the park to come and play,” said Jim, who now lives in the Bronx. “It is going to be wonderful to see his name here. I think [our mom] would be very touched.”
The plaque is part of the reconstruction and renovation of the Sunnyside playground, which was named after Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan who was also killed in action attempting to rescue members of his company and later awarded the Medal of Honor.
“Noonan Playground is an important community hub for our seniors, families and local children,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said Friday during the official ground breaking of the playground’s reconstruction. “The renovations will make the park safer for children and forever commemorate the sacrifices our local veterans made for this great nation.
Van Bramer allocated $2 million to redesign and expand the local playground as well as have a granite slab added to the base of the park’s flagpole as a monument to Noonan. The city’s Parks Department also received additional funding to renovated the basketball and handball courts.
The renovation of the park, which is expected to be completed in one year, will include the addition of play equipment, a play area for children from 2 to 5 years old and another for children 5 to 12 years old, and a new rainbow spray shower. Additional planted areas are also being created within the playground along Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd Street. Lighting will also be improved, the main entrance will be partially reconstructed and new bike racks, benches, paving and fencing will be installed.
Two years ago Van Bramer launched a Noonan Park Community Design Initiative, which brought in community suggestions from students of nearby P.S. 199 and residents on what they wanted to be done at the park.
“I believe great parks equal great neighborhoods and with the feedback we have received from the community we will rebuild a better playground that everyone can enjoy,” Van Bramer said.