Veterans group seeks aid to repair W. Richland memorial

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldApril 11, 2014 

Fifth Annual Time of Remembrance

March 8, 2014 - The Final Tribute memorial is seen during the fifth annual Time of Remembrance service in 2011 at Flat Top Park in West Richland. Almost 1,000 people attended to remember and honor members of the military who have died in the service of their country. The memorial was vandalized.

RICHARD DICKIN/HERALD — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

WEST RICHLAND -- Cash and material donations are still needed for repairs to the veterans memorial in West Richland's Flat Top Park.

So far, Combat Veterans International Chapter 3, the group pledged to repair the memorial, has raised more than $6,700, said Bobby Dale of Kennewick, sergeant at arms for the group.

The majority of it, $5,000, was donated by the Carpenters and Millwrights Union No. 2403.

The veterans group is hoping to raise as much as $25,000 to pay for repairs and increased security at the site.

The Final Tribute was vandalized in mid-March.

The memorial depicts a replica of an M-16 rifle, inverted and placed in the ground by its bayonet, with a World War II helmet attached to the rifle's butt. Those are the pieces that were wrenched off the granite base and found tossed into weeds behind the Benton County Mosquito Control office in West Richland.

A pair of bronzed boots, anchor bolted to the granite base, also were damaged.

Pat Artz of Benton City, a Vietnam Naval veteran who built the memorial more than a decade ago, already has started repairs.

He also plans to enhance the memorial with a decorative metal fence and a plaque with the words, "Freedom isn't Free," cut out of a sheet of steel donated by Pacific Steel of Pasco.

"That'll be attached to the granite base," Artz said.

"I thought I built it strong the first time. When I'm done now, there will be no ripping these apart again," he said.

Artz and other members of of the group plan to attend the West Richland City Council meeting April 15 in hopes of getting approval for their plans to fix the memorial.

"I really want to move this forward quickly," said Eugene Lamm of Richland, former president of the Combat Veterans International chapter.

"The fundraising is going slowly. I really thought it would be faster," Lamm said.

In addition to repairs the group is investigating different options to increase security.

"There are several different technologies we're looking into. One is a live webcam that anyone can access. That would give us lots of eyes on the memorial," Lamm said.

Lamm said they're also looking into maintenance costs and some of the money they raise may need to go into a fund to pay for future upkeep for additional lighting and a security system.

Donations can be made to the West Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, 6102 W. Van Giesen St., West Richland, WA 99353. Be sure to include a note earmarking it for Combat Veterans International.

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