The recent unveiling ceremony at what is now the Thomas F Minogue Armed Forces Reserve Center. Photo By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division Public Affairs.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Tommy Minogue’s heroism has been again recognized.
After five decades, the fallen Vietnam war hero and native New Yorker, Private First Class Thomas F. Minogue, has been memorialized and honored with his name now attached to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale on Long Island.
Minogue willingly sacrificed his life to save the lives of his commanding officer as well as soldiers in his company.
A Medical Corpsman, he was just 20.
The U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division hosted the ceremony to name the New York National Guard’s Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale after Minogue.
Minogue, a native of Inwood in Manhattan, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division when he was killed in action March 21, 1967. He shielded his wounded company commander from enemy automatic fire with his own body.
The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War is being recognized nationwide from May 2012 through November 2025 to honor the 2.7 million men and women served in Vietnam during the war.
“PFC Minogue was one of more than 58,000 service members who did not return from Vietnam to kiss and hug their family members,” said Major General Mark Palzer, 99th Readiness Division commanding general.
“I thank and honor PFC Minogue and his fellow Vietnam Veterans for all that they did.”
“Hearing of his acts of heroism certainly stirs within me the kind of pride and patriotism that makes me proud to have answered my calling to be a member of America’s Army Reserve,” said Command Sergeant Major Andrew Lombardo.
“I would be proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with PFC Minogue in combat.”
According to testimony from his fellow soldiers, Minogue and his company were attacked by a battalion-size element of North Vietnamese soldiers. They had killed most of the company's officers and were attempting to kill the company's commanding officer and overwhelm the remaining U.S. soldiers.
During the attack, Minogue returned fire on the enemy while simultaneously treating the wounds of his fellow soldiers before shielding his commander from enemy fire.
“He was a medic – that means he went over there to help people,” said Major General John Hussey, commanding general of the Army Reserve’s 200th Military Police Command.
“But when it really hit the fan, there was no tougher son of a gun on that battlefield that day than PFC Thomas Francis Minogue. He answered the call to save his fellow comrades in battle.”
Because the company commander was the only soldier who could call for close air support, indirect fire, and Medevac, Minogue's actions subsequently prevented the North Vietnamese soldiers from overwhelming the remaining Americans.
His sacrifice saved not only the company commander's life, but also the lives of several other U.S. service members who were able to withstand and survive the enemy attack, said a release.
“What a great honor and tribute this is to my brother Tommy,” said Minogue’s brother, Jack.
“There’s an old saying, ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but I don’t know about that. Fifty-four years since Tommy got killed, and I still think about him every day.”
“Today is their day, but most of all, it is PFC Minogue’s day,” Major General Palzer said.
As reported back in 2019 by the Echo, Minogue lost his life in a ferocious firefight that became known as the “Battle of One Niner.”
“One Niner” pitted Minogue and about a hundred of his fellow Americans against an estimated 1,000 North Vietnamese regular troops.
Anyone who has seen the movie “Forrest Gump” and its Vietnam battle scene will recognize the heroism of Tommy Minogue.
In the movie, Forrest, played by Tom Hanks, is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism under fire.
Tommy Minogue was on his way to being awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his heroism.
Then the army bureaucracy had another idea and awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for gallantry.
This didn’t rest well with Minogue’s family and friends and a few years ago a campaign was launched to have Minogue promoted into the hallowed ranks of Medal of Honor winners.
Minogue, according to battlefield accounts, also took a machine gun from a fallen comrade and helped drive back the attackers.
Minogue’s actions allowed the company commander, Captain Ronald Rykowski, to call in close air support, indirect fire and medical evacuations, and saved fellow American soldiers.
Tragically, Minogue was unable to defend himself as he took bullets aimed at Rykowski who himself had been wounded three times.
Congressman Peter King, back in 2012, stated of Minogue: “A very compelling case has been made that Army Private Minogue should have received the Medal of Honor.”
And Major General Hussey has championed the cause of upgrading the medal award Monogue to the highest honor possible.
Hussey worked to get Minogue’s nomination for a Medal of Honor reviewed after new testimony disclosed that Minogue used a machine gun to hold off a third enemy assault wave before he died, the Army Times stated in its report of the center renaming.
“In my heart of hearts, I think he deserved it,” Hussey said of the award upgrade.
“But the dedication was a good opportunity for younger members of his family to hear about his heroism,” Hussey told the Army Times.
The naming of the Reserve Center after Minogue will only serve to raise the profile of the Medal of Honor campaign.