Williamsburg street named for Iraq war hero
Residents gathered together on a Williamsburg street corner with local elected officials on April 27 to pay a lasting tribute to a hero who lived in the community and died in the war in Iraq.
Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Williamsburg-Greenpoint-Brooklyn Heights) presided over a ceremony to co-name the corner of Bedford Avenue and South 10th Street “1st Sergeant Bobby Mendez Way.”
Several members of Mendez’s family were on hand for the ceremony. The new street sign bearing his name hangs on the corner outside the building where he grew up.
Mendez, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, was serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom when he died from injuries he sustained from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Bagdad. The IED detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad, according to Levin’s office.
Mendez had been assigned to the 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division in Fort Hood, Texas when he was deployed to Iraq.
Mendez, who was 38 years old, died on April 27, 2006, his son’s birthday.
Ten years to the day, his family and friends gathered to celebrate the street corner co-naming.
Street co-namings in New York City fall under the legislative duties of the City Council. Levin requested that the council pass a bill to honor Mendez. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito sponsored a package of bills to co-name 42 streets around the city after various heroes, including Mendez. The council approved the legislation on Feb. 5.
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the legislation on Feb. 25.
Levin, whose work paved the way for the official name designation and the new street sign, said it is important to remember Mendez.
Levin said that while a street sign “is a small gesture on our part, I hope we can all look up and remember Bobby’s service to our country, and his love for the community he called home.”
Mendez’s wife, Jennifer Mendez, had told Levin that she wanted a permanent reminder of the sacrifice her husband made to be placed just outside the building where Bobby grew up.
“Before we got married, I moved in with his mother and brother on South 10th. It was there where I learned what community meant. Bobby was extremely proud of this sense of community,” she said in a statement.
At a Feb. 25 ceremony to mark the signing of the legislation, de Blasio called co-naming a city street a “very sacred” act.