Sergeant Wilbur E. Colyer (1901-1918) was the first and youngest Queens resident to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was born in Brooklyn, but later moved to 202 Helen Avenue in South Ozone Park. Colyer enlisted in the United States Army and served as a member of Company A of the 1st Engineers, 1st Division, during World War I (1914-1918).
Sergeant Colyer won the Medal of Honor at the age of seventeen for volunteering, along with two other soldiers, to locate machine-gun nests. While advancing on the enemy positions, Sergeant Colyer became half surrounded by machine-gun nests. Colyer killed the gunner of one nest with a grenade that he had captured from an enemy soldier, and then turned the German machine gun on the other nests. In his valor, Colyer disabled all other German positions before returning to his platoon, freeing his company from heavy fire. Colyer was killed in action on October 10, 1918, while on maneuvers near Verdun, France. He is buried in Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills National Cemetery.
Parks acquired the land for Sergeant Colyer Square by condemnation in 1921. Resolution 172 of the Board of Aldermen, the predecessor of the City Council, named the park for Sergeant Colyer on March 24, 1931. Today, Sergeant Coyler Square provides a welcome resting place for strollers along Rockaway Boulevard.
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