Bay Ridge

McCabe Memorial Run to raise funds for veterans

Bay Ridge man organizes event in tribute to his late father

October 27, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A poster advertising the Nov. 13 run includes a photo of a young Liam McCabe with his father Willie. Photo courtesy of Liam McCabe
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Willie McCabe was a homeless Vietnam War-era veteran who died cold and hungry on railroad tracks in Bay Ridge in 2005, according to his son, Liam McCabe, who said he is determined to prevent other veterans from suffering the same tragic fate.

McCabe, a Bay Ridge civic and political activist, has dedicated much of his life to helping veterans.

Last year, he organized the Willie McCabe Memorial 5K Run and Walk, a race that raised more than $1,000 for organizations that help veterans.

On Nov. 13, the Second Annual Willie McCabe Memorial 5K Run and Walk will take place in Owl’s Head Park on Colonial Road and 67th Street, starting at 1 p.m.

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“We are very excited to once again invite all members of the community, the media, runners and veteran’s supporters to take part,” said McCabe, who works as an aide to U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan. McCabe is also the founder of the Brooklyn South Conservative Club.

Willie McCabe, who was born in 1953, served in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division (nicknamed the Screaming Eagles). For many years, he worked for the New York City Transit Authority as a track worker and bus maintenance technician. His son said he was a gifted writer, storyteller, poet, carpenter and political activist.

But while Willie McCabe was beloved by his friends for his warmth and good nature, he suffered from depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and alcoholism. He began his decline into homelessness in the late 1990s and eventually became permanently homeless in 2000, his son said.  

The older McCabe lived on a stretch of railway in Bay Ridge called the Cross-Harbor Railroad, which connects the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to New Jersey by barge. He commandeered an old caboose and turned it into a makeshift home.  

He died of hypothermia on Nov. 24, 2005.

The memorial run will raise funds for Samaritan Village, a nonprofit charity that builds houses for New York’s homeless veterans. 

“I know my dad would be proud of the work we are doing for veterans,” Liam McCabe said.

For more information on the Willie McCabe Memorial 5K Run and Walk, visit the event’s Facebook page at


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