Vandals steal items from World War II memorial in Fall River

A Purple Heart medal and vial of sand from Iwo Jima were stolen from this display box at Fall River's Iwo Jima memorial. (Brian Yocono/WPRI)

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) – Vandals have struck at a war memorial in Fall River.

Within the last week, someone smashed a display case at the Iwo Jima memorial in Bicentennial Park and stole two items: a Purple Heart medal and a vial of sand from the beach at Iwo Jima.

The monument depicts the famous image of several U.S. Marines raising the American flag during the battle on Iwo Jima, a tiny Pacific island that was the site of a bloody month-long battle in early 1945.

And this isn’t the first time it’s been damaged.

Bruce Aldrich, Commandant of the Marine Corps League of Somerset, said he was inspecting the monument last week to check for any damage, as he does about once a month, when he noticed that two lights had been smashed and the artifacts taken from a Plexiglas box.

The stolen Purple Heart and vial were replacements after the first set was stolen several years ago. They were never recovered and were replaced by local veterans. In 2014, the American flag atop the monument was also stolen.

Despite that, Aldrich says another local veteran has already come forward with replacement items. Aldrich hopes to install a stronger cover on the box to prevent the items from being snatched for a third time.

Meanwhile, Fall River police said they will increase patrols in the park to try to deter further vandalism.

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