Photo: Daniel Avila
Ballfields in Gen. MacArthur Park now officially named SSGT James Cooney & PFC John Tamburri, Jr. Ballfields
Today, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue joined Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, State Assembly Member Michael Tannousis, State Senator Andrew Lanza, Councilman David Carr, District Attorney Mike McMahon, and family of the late Staff Sergeant James Cooney and Private First Class John Tamburri, Purple Heart recipients and casualties of the Vietnam War, to officially name the ballfields at Gen. Douglas MacArthur Park in their honor.
“Parks are places for fun and recreation, but also reflection and remembrance. and we are very proud that Staff Sergeant James Cooney and Private First Class John Tamburri will be forever memorialized here at Gen. Douglas MacArthur Park,” said Commissioner Donoghue. “With overwhelming support from the community and our elected officials, I’m proud to name the ballfields for these two Purple Heart recipients, and hope that their ultimate sacrifice is honored here for decades to come.”
“We are honored to be able to officially rename the field in recognition of two of the original Berry boys, Staff Sergeant James Cooney and Private First Class John Tamburri,” said Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella. “The sacrifices these young men have made for our country are tragic but dignified in every respect. In a spiritual and emotional way, they also bring us here together with their families and friends who miss them and love them dearly. While we are often known as the Borough of Parks, today and everyday we are known as the borough of heroes reflective of the willingness to sacrifice from all our veterans.”
“Staff Sergeant James Cooney and Private First Class John Tamburriwill made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation while answering their call to duty during the Vietnam War,” Congresswoman Malliotakis said. “The renaming of these battlefields at Gen. Douglas Macarthur Park is an honorable way to remember these two Staten Islanders and American heroes for decades to come.”
“Countless Staten Island athletes have stepped foot on the fields at “The Berries” and recent renovations ensure thousands more will be able to run and play in their footsteps. The already legendary status these fields enjoy in our borough’s sports history makes today’s renaming all the more special, as SSGT James Cooney and PFC John Tamburri, Jr. not only made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation in Vietnam, but played on these very fields themselves in their youth. I am honored to join my colleagues in forever naming these fields for two heroes of Staten Island who deserve our endless respect and gratitude,” said District Attorney Mike McMahon.
“I was happy to work with BP Fossella and Staten Island Parks to have the field at General MacArthur Park renamed in honor of Vietnam soldiers PFC. John Tamburri and SSGT. James Cooney,” said Councilman David Carr. “These native Staten Islanders made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is an honor that their names will be forever cemented at MacArthur Park.”
Staff Sergeant James Cooney and Private First Class John Tamburri both resided at the Berry Houses in Dongan Hills, nearby Gen. Douglas MacArthur Park, where they spent their time as youth with friends and loved ones. PFC Tamburri and SSGT Cooney lost their lives in 1970 while serving in the Vietnam War, and were each posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. The ballfields at Gen. Douglas MacArthur Park have been named in honor of their ultimate sacrifice.
The designation was made with strong support from the Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, Council Member David Carr, and Community Board 2, and the families of SSGT Cooney and PFC Tamburri.
The newly named ballfields lie within Gen. Douglas MacArthur Park, originally developed as part of the General Charles W. Berry Houses public housing project. The land encompassing the park and the General Charles W. Berry Houses was once occupied by the Richmond County Fair Grounds. In 1905, the Richmond County Fair moved to the fairgrounds after it was previously held in West New Brighton. The venue featured a grandstand, half-mile track, and 100-foot-long exhibition building specifically designed to host this annual event. It was replete with games, exhibitions, sporting events, and demonstrations. The fair ran until 1926 and was later revived in 1979 at Historic Richmond Town, where it is still held every year.