Midway through the month of April, thieves ventured into the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Wichita, Kansas and vandalized the USS Dorado Memorial display. Two of the plaques were stolen in their entirety, and a third was left at the scene of the crime.
The reason why the third wasn’t taken with the others is unknown, although Robert Fugit, Commander of the U.S. Submarine Veterans, Inc., theorized in an interview with KWCH12 that the thieves may have been interrupted by a passerby.
Even though the thief or thieves didn’t get all three plaques, the damage was done. The chisels that were used to pry up each plaque caused damage to the stone pedestals and the sheer level of disrespect put on display by the vandals shocked and outraged the community.
The question on everyone’s mind at the time was: “why?” if money was the motive, the thieves obviously didn’t do their research. The bronze that the plaques were made out of was only valued at $2.99/lb. at the time of the theft according to the experts who were questioned by KWCH12’s news team. At most, the thieves would have received a paltry $20 for their illicit efforts, not even enough to pay for a tank of gas in the average car these days.
The Determination of a Community
Upon hearing of the vandalism and theft, members of local veterans’ organizations, such as Mr. Fugit, gathered in Wichita to check the condition of the Dorado Memorial for themselves.
Their reaction was one of disappointment. Fugit, in particular, was saddened that a memorial that was dedicated to men who died defending their country would be something that a person would look at and think: “I don’t care, let me take that, it means nothing to me.”
However, despite their disappointment, the members of the U.S. Submarine Veterans resolved to not only replace the plaques, but to do it before the upcoming Memorial Day holiday and to make the plaques out of marble so that they would be useless to thieves as a saleable scrap item. They set about this task expecting to use their organization’s funds, and even their personal funds if that didn’t prove to be enough.
The hope of these veterans was to make sure that all of the crewmen of the USS Dorado, and all other Navy personnel who have lost their lives aboard submarines, could be honored properly on the day that is set aside for the remembrance of those who gave their lives in service to their country. Thankfully, they were able to meet their goal, with a little help from another memorial organization.
Replacing What Was Taken
Bell Memorial in Beloit saw the news article about the April theft, and donated the funds that were needed to expedite the creation of the plaques that were stolen and the repair of their pedestals. Now, three new black marble plaques adorn the memorial in Wichita, a proud reminder of those who have given everything in order to protect the freedoms of others.
Watch the KWCH12 video detailing the replacement of the plaques below, or on their website.
We here at In The News are proud to support and remember our veterans, not just on Memorial Day but the whole year round. For their service and sacrifice, we’re grateful.
If you’re in the Wichita, Kansas area on Monday, please be sure to visit the USS Dorado memorial and take a look at the memorial up close.
Wishing you well this Memorial Day weekend,
The crew of In The News.