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Wrong Wally Bazemore?

Wally Bazemore

Founder and President

MAD Dads

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MAD Dads

Background Information

Employment History


Red Hook Community Justice Center


Board Member
PAVE Academy Charter School

Web References (5 Total References)

PAVE Academy [cached]

Wally Bazemore Wally has been a member of the Red Hook community since 1955. He is active in his community, especially with neighborhood schools and youth development organizations. Wally coached Little League and was a Scout Leader for many years, is the former President of the Red Hook Lions Club, and a founding President of MAD Dads. He was the first African-American male on the Community School District 15 School Board. In addition to his extensive community involvement, he also served his country in the Vietnam War. He is a founding member of the PAVE Board.

Board - Pave Academy Charter School - Kindergarten through 8th Grade - Brooklyn, New York [cached]

Wally Bazemore

Board - Pave Academy Charter School - Kindergarten through 8th Grade - Brooklyn, New York [cached]

Wally Bazemore

Board - Pave Academy Charter School - Kindergarten through 8th Grade - Brooklyn, New York [cached]

Wally Bazemore

Bklynr | Red Hook War Stories [cached]

Wally Bazemore

The sixth time Vietnam veteran Wally Bazemore tried to get out of Red Hook and found himself back in town, he decided he must have been meant to stay.
"I figured it out, that maybe somebody up there wanted me to be … in the community for a reason. By the sixth time I finally got it, and that's when I started doing a lot of community work," he says. "I was shot three times over there" - in Vietnam, he means - "and I know I wasn't saved because of my beautiful smile."
Wally came to Red Hook with his family in 1955 at the age of 4, in time for the birth of his younger brother. The family had been living in tenement housing in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Red Hook gave Wally the opportunity to grow up in diversity: while Bed-Stuy was largely African-American, Red Hook was home to Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Puerto Rican communities as well, all of whom became Wally's friends. "It just opened my eyes to a different world," he says. "Our little bunch was like the U.N."
"Red Hook offered us the opportunity to live in something stable. It was a great community," he says. Red Hook had parks, the waterfront, jobs and good schools to offer Wally, his parents, and his three brothers. "We flourished out here."
In 1968, Wally and a group of 40 of his friends and neighbors volunteered to go to Vietnam. Wally was 19. Of that group, only two didn't come back to Red Hook - an unusually low number, Wally remarks. He fought in the 101st Airborne in long-range reconnaissance. He once encountered one of his Red Hook pals in the bush. "It was like running into a piece of home," he remembers.
Wally Bazemore, who grew up in Red Hook and served in Vietnam, isn't sure if he's welcome at Post 5195.
Of his three years in the military, Wally spent two years in Vietnam and six months in Okinawa. In Vietnam, he was based just off Highway 1, one of the country's two thoroughfares. "First day you get off that plane in Da Nang Airport, the heat and the smell of death - that's the first thing that greets you. That heat and that smell never go away."
There's another smell he remembers vividly: that of steak grilling as American contract employees from the Goodrich tire plant barbecued outside, drinking beer and enjoying the Vietnamese countryside while he and his fellow soldiers were "maybe 100 yards away, engaged in firefights."
Wally also remembers Vietnam as a "beautiful country" with "beautiful people" - the ones that weren't shooting at him, anyway. "I was still a kid, so I was always drawn to the children. A few of them saved my life on quite a few missions. Just giving me eye contact, letting me know, 'Don't go that way, go this way.' I would give them canned goods and candy," he says.
Many of its white residents had left en masse, unnerved by the growing number of African-American and Latino residents, Wally suspects.
Get a little college credit, buy a car, get out and have a little money saved," Wally says of his group of peers.
Wally studied for a year at Brooklyn College, where he played on the football team, then had a daughter and had to leave school to go to work. "I knew I was committed, not only to my family but to this community. I was trying to do well."
Eventually his friends started to split up and go their separate ways. Some, like Wally, remained.
Ignited by images of protesters on TV, Wally and his friends met up at the basketball court at Visitation Hall and decided to join the fight. "The United States was burning. LA, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville. Everyone was tearing up shit," he recalls of that day.
Wally began talking about the war 22 years ago, when he was living in the Bronx, working in maintenance at 26 Federal Plaza, a job he'd gotten through a veterans' program. He joined a small group of veterans who met at an outreach center to talk about their life and feelings and, eventually, about their experiences in the war.
Since his early activism, Wally became the first African-American man to be elected to the school board. He's also a member of the advisory board of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. As a prominent and watchful community member, and he sees younger veterans when they return from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think that's a worthy cause," says Wally, who has been introducing John to some of the local political players and helping him lay the groundwork for his project.
Wally, however, hasn't spent a lot of time in the VFW on Van Brunt.
It's all a fraternity as far as I'm concerned," Wally says. He points out that there are no female veterans hanging out at the VFW, either.
The attitude, Wally believes, bears a resemblance to that of the "old enclave" he grew up with. "They're surrounding the wagons," he says.
Though Wally says he's been too busy with his own community projects to square off with the VFW, he hopes that one day all neighborhood veterans will be able to unite in the name of Red Hook. "We're all neighbors. I label everyone all Red Hookers. We're tribal. We're a tribe out here. What we don't do for ourselves, nobody else is gonna do for us," Wally says.

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