Silvio Mazzella lives by a simple three word motto — “community, family and country.”
The three commitments co-exist equally, a civic recipe that’s earned him recognition and stature within the east Bronx.
But Mazzella’s earned it.
Some days he’s vice president of the 49th Precinct Community Council, acting as a consigliere to current president Joe Thompson. On other days he’s a member of Community Board 11, sitting as treasurer.
The soft-spoken Bronxite is also a military veteran, having fought in the jungles of Vietnam during the two-decade war. He’s remembered his service ever since, participating in annual memorial services on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.
Mazzella was recently honored in Albany, inducted into the New York Veteran’s Hall of Fame, receiving a plaque from Senator Jeff Klein.
“It was 42 years before someone said to me ‘Thank you for serving,’” said Mazzella. “It felt very strange in being honored. It was strange and difficult.”
The memorial honors vets who’ve been upstanding citizens, even as they’ve left the frontlines.
Mazzella certainly fits the description, also serving on the advisory boards of Jacobi Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
He’s also affiliated with the Knights of Columbus, Vietnam Veterans Association and the San Silverio of Morris Park.
The distinction is the latest for Mazzella, who grew up on Morris Avenue in the South Bronx, attending Our Lady of Pity Catholic school.
As the Vietnam war raged, Mazzella joined the U.S. Marines, sent to Vietnam in late 1966, where he spent 13 months on the battlefield as a lance corporal.
Putting the war behind him, he settled in Morris Park with Yvonne, his wife of 43 years, and three kids.
Raising a family and working as a sales consultant for janitorial supply companies, Mazzella also connected with Rudy Mecina, a career military veteran later memorialized at the Peace Plaza on Pelham Parkway.
“I started volunteering to help him,” said Mazzella, also crediting Mecina for bringing the Bronx Columbus Day Parade to Morris Park.
In the late 80s, Mazzella hooked up with a fellow Marine—then mayor David Dinkins, who introduced him to “Increase the Peace,” an initiative to curb any community issues affecting a neighborhood.
It’s simply service that drives Mazzella, an obligation he believes is waning in today’s world.
“Today we’re too much ‘Me, me, me,’” he said. “When you’re committed, it’s a part of you.”
Favorite Book: Living with Christ, “I have it where it’s the most peaceful…the bathroom.”
Favorite Historical Figure: President Ronald Reagan, “The man is a true American.”
Favorite Movie: The Godfather
Favorite Hobby: Playing Sodoku
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383