PFC. Thomas W. Boyer – Park 69

— A while back, I helped to clean up Boyer playground with a group of volunteers.  I met Kim Littlejohn that day and I told her I would find out for whom Boyer Park was named.  It took a long while to find the story, but here it is Kim. Sorry no photo of Tom Boyer could be found..  maybe one will appear soon. Super good link about the long gone Wilbur Wright High School below – take a look.  Thanks for reading.  Ag


“There isn’t much of his civil life to tell.  He died so young.  He was born April 15, 1924 in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.  We brought him to Detroit on December 3, 1927.  He attended Harms Grade School, Wilson Elementary School and he graduated from Wilbur Wright Trade School.  He was a newspaper carrier when he was young.  After graduation he worked as an apprentice at General Motors Research Laboratory. He was getting along fine there until he was drafted into the Army on February 25, 1943…

Boyer Memorial Playground - Southwest Detroit - Dragoon and Vernor
Boyer Memorial Playground – Southwest Detroit – Dragoon and Vernor



Thomas had a successful career serving in the US Army, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry fighting in France and Italy.  He understood the simplicity of completing a mission:

  1. Get the orders.
  2. Follow through.

Early on in his service, he and his two buddies were ordered to “get prisoners for interrogation”, so they did.  Within two hours, they returned with a German Major and an orderly.  Ah, that’s efficiency.


Prior to his death, Boyer’s service was distinctly noted by superiors, however he was decorated posthumously.


Army_distinguished_service_cross_medal public domain
Distinguished Service Cross Photo: Public domain

On May 28, 1944 in the afternoon near Lariano, Italy Boyer went out with a patrol as an ‘observer’ only.  By the end of patrol he had assaulted an enemy strong-point, killed six adversarial soldiers and held off and heavily damaged an armored personnel/ammunition truck.  He took a sniper’s bullet and even though seriously wounded, Boyer covered the withdrawal of his patrol.  I can only imagine the Rambo-like adrenaline rush he was under.  He survived this mission and ended up in hospital.  For his volunteer efforts, Boyer earned the Distinguished Service Cross.


Later that year in August 1944, Boyer was a volunteer mission in France when he heard the cries of two wounded soldiers.  He ran through enemy fire and proceeded to administer aid.  When the soldiers were evacuated, Boyer purposely ran ahead of the slow moving litter [stretcher], firing his machine gun into enemy positions to divert attention away from the wounded men.  For this feat, he earned the Bronze Star.

He met death in battle on November 4, 1944 in Anzio, Italy and is buried in the Epinal Military Cemetery in Dinoze, France.  He was additionally decorated with a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster.

Cemetery headstone with alabaster cross with flowers and flags
Boyer never made it back to Detroit. Lovely French cemetery. Photo courtesy John Dowdy

The ordinance passed for naming of the park occurred in Sept 1947.  The 1.7 acre parcel for Thomas Boyer playground came from a transfer from the Detroit Street Railways Department which tells us it may have been a street car or interurban stop back in the day. Boyer playground has a pentagonal shape with small frontage along Vernor Highway and is bordered by Dragoon and Cadet streets.  The Burger King flanking the property has decent service for a girl and a dog who needed fries plus a pretty clean bathroom.

Boyer plat map
Boyer plat map