Military tribute desecrated

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Lewisburg firefighter Wayne Blackwell brings the military tribute plaque to the shore of Rock Creek where Fire Chief Larry Williams stands ready to receive the plaque.

Vandals removed the plaque honoring three Marshal County men who died while fighting in the Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom Campaigns and the plaque has been recovered from Rock Creek.

"That's total disrespect," Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. David Henley said Monday morning on the Rock Creek Park pedestrian bridge where Lewisburg Firefighter Wayne Blackwell was about to retrieve the plaque.

"It's not like somebody threw a no-parking sign in the creek," Henley said.

Detective Scott Braden agreed.

"It's a mean act of vandalism," Braden said. "Hopefully somebody will do the right thing."

Police want help from the public and they anticipated CrimeStoppers would stand ready to pay a reward if someone provides information about the perpetrators.

"There's probably more than one person involved, or at least someone saw something," Braden said. "A lot of people walk this track."

Civic-minded residents are asked to call Lewisburg Police at 359-4044 to help further the investigation.

The crime was reported to Bill Curtis of the City Streets department Monday morning when he was having breakfast at the Krystal restaurant, City Manager Eddie Fuller said.

In addition to the plaque being dropped in the water from the bridge, it would appear that about a dozen white flags had also been tossed from the bridge, Fuller said. The small flags had been placed in the park to indicate where trees were to be planted with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of natural diversity in plants and animals.

"We've planted all the trees on the greenway over 5-6 years," said Leslie Colley, Duck River Program manager for the Nature Conservancy, who arrived at Rock Creek Park shortly after Blackwell retrieved the plaque.

More trees are to be planted in Rock Creek Park, Colley said. That will be as soon as the nursery receives the trees and takes them to the park. They're to be native species to maintain the natural beauty of the park, she said.

Meanwhile, inspection of the plaque revealed that the metal object was not damaged, Fuller said. The plaque cost about $600. Some black touch-up paint may be needed.

As of press-time it was unclear whether the City Council might add to the reward established by CrimeStoppers. The Council's monthly meeting was to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday.