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Vandals strike Korean War memorial in Duluth

Marine veteran Bob Pearson said he doesn't know why someone would vandalize a Duluth Lakewalk memorial to those who served in the Korean War.

"Evidently there is something they don't like about the Marine Corps," Pearson said.

Vandalism to the Korean Veterans Memorial was discovered Thursday morning. Two lights that illuminate the memorial were destroyed, and a rock was apparently thrown against the memorial itself, chipping it near an engraved U.S. Marine Corps emblem.

According to Pearson, "Mohammad Wali 7" was written in red on the rock. An Internet search found several sites identifying a Mohammad Wali, 7 years old, who was fatally injured in a 2008 airstrike in Afghanistan.

"It's a sad situation when anyone would come and do anything to a memorial to veterans," said Pearson, who helped create the privately funded memorial.

"Veterans are the ones who keep this country free, so it's somebody that doesn't like freedom, the way I look at it.

If they find them, I would like to be part of the prosecution or part of the penalty."

The Korean Veterans Memorial is about 100 yards west of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial around Fifth Avenue East. The Korean memorial bears the names of the 227 members of Duluth's B Company, a Marine Corps Reserve unit based on Park Point. The unit marched down Superior Street on a sticky August day in 1950 before shipping out to Korea.

Ten members of the company were killed in action during the Korean War, which is often referred to as the "forgotten war" because it fell between the end of World War II and the start of the Vietnam War.

Pearson said he doesn't know how much it will cost to repair the damage. Local 242 of the electricians' union originally donated and installed the lights that were destroyed.

The memorial -- dedicated on Aug. 23, 2003 -- cost $65,000 to build, Pearson said.

"There was no public money; it was all done by donations and volunteer labor," he said. "I'm very devastated, because we put in a lot of work to put this up."

The memorial's 16-foot-long wall has three sections. The 5-foot-high center section includes the likeness of Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge and, in its midst, the names of the 10 B Company members killed in battle. The two 4-foot side panels include the names of all of B Company's surviving members. Bricks by the wall contain the names of people who donated to the effort.

People interested making donations for the memorial can call Pearson at (218) 349-5573 or (218) 730-5160.

The Duluth Police Department asks anyone with information on the vandalism to call its property crime investigations unit at (218) 730-5160.